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U.S., Bulgaria Chart 10-Year Road Map for Military Cooperation

Oct. 6, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Bulgarian Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov signed a 10-year road map charting defense cooperation between the two countries over the next decade.

Bulgaria and the United States are NATO allies, and Esper praised the Balkan nation for dedicating 3 percent of gross domestic product toward defense in fiscal 2019. The road map looks for ways for the two countries to fix gaps in military capabilities and to improve interoperability, Esper said.

People wearing face masks sit at a conference table while one without a mask speaks to a man just across the table from him.
Pentagon Meeting
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper meets with Bulgarian Defense Minister Dr. Krasimir Karakachanov at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., Oct. 6, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 101006-D-XI929-1003

It also establishes a framework for the continuous development of Bulgaria's military readiness and capabilities for the next decade through sustained cooperation between the two nations.

"This road map will give us a chance to not only intensify our bilateral relations, but to be individually beneficial to each other's national defense," Karakachanov said through an interpreter. "Also, to be beneficial to NATO … to be able to counter the malign intentions of our adversaries."

Bulgaria is a front-line NATO state. Esper said the nation plays a critical role in protecting NATO's eastern flank.

Two men wearing face masks speak to a group of people.
Pentagon Greeting
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and the Bulgarian Defense Minister Dr. Krasimir Karakachanov greet members of the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., Oct. 6, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 101006-D-XI929-1002
Two men hold two government documents as they pose for a photo.
Esper and Karakachanov
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and the Bulgarian Defense Minister Dr. Krasimir Karakachanov, hold copies of the signed 10-year road map charting defense cooperation agreement at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., Oct. 6, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 101006-D-XI929-1004

"We, of course, share many security interests, particularly issues such as Black Sea security, defense modernization and security cooperation," Esper said. 

Esper said he wants more NATO allies to reach at least the 2 percent goal of GDP committed to defense. "I encourage you and our other alliance members to pay to push for 2 percent of the GDP spending target and to make the needed investments to enhance your capabilities and capacity," he said. "Because you know, I believe that 2 percent should be a floor, not a ceiling."