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(DF) Central Europe Chiefs of Defence Conference in Sofia Promotes Mutual Understanding

November 18 (BTA) – The Central Europe Chiefs of Defence Conference in Sofia on November 17 and 18 brought together military leaders from the region to promote dialogue and mutual understanding about the security environment and ensuring peace and stability in Central Europe and the Black Sea region. The annual event was initiated by the United States European Command. Addressing the conference on Thursday, Bulgaria’s Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, said, as quoted by the Defence Ministry: “We the chiefs of defence of the countries participating in the conference are not just members of an alliance which requires us to defend one another in case of danger, but also members of a community of shared democratic values, partnership and openness. Therefore, we remain committed to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our response to challenges and transforming our forces to make them better aligned with NATO requirements and more interoperable in all domains.” Adm. Eftimov said Bulgaria and the US enjoy a strong bilateral relationship in the field of security and defence. It is evidenced by the 10-year roadmap signed by the US Secretary of Defence and the Bulgarian Minister of Defence in 2020. The roadmap sets out measures and actions for defence cooperation between the two nations until 2030. The Central Europe Chiefs of Defence Conference was attended by the chiefs of defence of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, and the US National Guard adjutants general from the partner states of Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. The Commander of the US European Command, General Tod Wolters, thanked the Bulgarian Defence Ministry for the organization of the conference. He noted that the participants in the event actually represent NATO’s Military Strategy and the Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, because they stand for components of global as well as national power concentrated in a very important region. Gen. Wolters noted that the US has a long history of defence cooperation with the Central European countries. Washington is committed to working with these extremely able allies and partners whose varied operative experience contributes considerably to the region’s security, he said. Speakers at the conference reaffirmed the strategic status of Central Europe and the Black Sea region and said that their geopolitical importance is growing. The leaders of the national delegations discussed regional security challenges, the transformation of forces to achieve interoperability, and the lessons learned about military mobility. They supported a proposal by the Bulgarian Chief of Defence to promote connectivity among the countries in the region by upgrading transport infrastructure, particularly Corridor 8, which is of strategic importance for ensuring the military mobility of NATO forces. They concurred that the Tirana-Skopje-Sofia link is essential for the successful integration of the Western Balkans in the collective security system and the region’s development. The discussions ended with a briefing on the US European Command programme for joint exercises in 2022. The briefing reaffirmed the lasting commitment to deepening defence cooperation. The participants concurred that the joint exercises and the interaction of the allied and partner forces increase interoperability in all domains and contribute to peace and stability in all Europe by making it possible to respond to existing and potential threats. RY/VE