SARAJEVO, September 26 (FENA) - Minister of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria, Dimitar Stoyanov, today, as part of an official visit to the Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, met with the Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sifet Podžić, and on that occasion emphasized his country's support for the Euro-Atlantic path of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the extension of the EUFOR/Althea Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The meeting of the delegations of defense ministries of the two countries was an opportunity to exchange opinions regarding current global security threats and risks, with a focus on preserving the regional and stability of BiH.
They discussed the strengthening of bilateral defense cooperation and the security challenges facing Europe and the world, as well as the "sensitivity" of the region of Southeast Europe, including in this context the importance of the continuation of the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Minister Stoyanov pointed out that Bulgaria has continuously provided and continues to support the EU integration process of the Western Balkans countries.
“We support and encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue with reforms on the way to EU integration, as well as in the context of Euro-Atlantic integration,” said Stoyanov after the meeting at the BiH Ministry of Defense.
He underlined that preserving stability in the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as promoting their EU and NATO perspective, are priorities for Bulgaria, stating that good neighborly relations and regional cooperation are of essential importance for the process of enlargement of the European Union.
He also emphasized that Bulgaria continues to provide continuous support to the EUFOR/Althea mission and that this mission plays a crucial role in preserving the stability and security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region as a whole.
Responding to a journalist's inquiry regarding the possible increase in the number of members of the Bulgarian contingent within EUFOR, and in the context of current security challenges, Minister Stoyanov said that Bulgaria is currently participating in the mission with a composition of reserve forces totaling 106 members, in addition to twelve people in their headquarters.
“At this moment, we do not see the need to increase our contingent, but of course, we have our operational reserves available, so we can activate them if necessary, but as we said, we do not see the need for it yet,” added Stoyanov.
Along with the satisfaction expressed on the occasion of the visit of Minister Stoyanov and the delegation, Minister Podžić said that the meeting was an opportunity to exchange opinions on issues related to the further improvement of bilateral cooperation and the extension of EUFOR's mandate in November this year.
He reminded that Bulgaria is among the countries with the largest contingent within EUFOR, expressing gratitude for that occasion.
At the same time, Podžić reminded NATO's position that continuity of the mission of international forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot and will not be interrupted in the case of a veto regarding the extension of EUFOR mandate, that is, the Althea operation/mission.
“What kind of solution will be found remains to be seen. For the most part, we have firm guarantees that what was done in the post-war period in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international community is not ready to sacrifice by not continuing any form of mission,” said Podžić, stating that Annex 1a of the Dayton Peace Agreement states that NATO alliance is responsible for the implementation of the military part of that agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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