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PM Petkov: “We Must Stop Talking about NATO Soldiers as Uninvited Foreigners”

“We must stop talking about NATO soldiers as foreigners who come here uninvited,” Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said at the Durnakulak checkpoint on the border with Romania, commenting President Rumen Radev’s demand that Bulgaria guards its air space alone. “We’re part of NATO and together we can not only guard our skies, but the whole Eastern flank, [we can] have coordination, compensate our deficits and jointly guarantee our common security,” said the Prime Minister said, who visited the checkpoint to familiarize himself with the capabilities of the temporary centre for issuing documents to Ukrainian refugees.
Earlier in the day, Petkov visited the refugee support centre in the coastal city of Varna, where he said that there is no way Bulgaria can pay millions of euro to Russia for aircraft repairs. According to him, other opportunities must be sought, with the most important thing for Bulgaria being that its pilots do not lose their flying aptitude. Petkov added that he hopes this issue is brought up during the upcoming visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. Bulgaria will get its F-16 fighters, but until then its pilots must be able to fly them, the Prime Minister said.
Answering a question whether border security must be enhanced, Petkov said that it is already clear that instead of constructive dialogue with the Russian Federation, there is now a hostile country that attacks another Slavic state. This is a fact, which cannot be ignored, he said, adding that from now on Bulgaria must act in unison with NATO and the EU and have a coordinated strategy based on this new threat.