News story: UK strengthens Bulgaria ties to tackle threats

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  1. Updated: Added translation

    During the first visit by a UK Cabinet member since the EU Referendum, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said he was committed to helping Bulgaria deal with increased militarisation in the Crimea and the Black Sea, and greater Russian military transfers through the Bosporus.

    His visit to Sofia today, alongside a trade delegation of leading UK defence companies, was the first by a Defence Secretary in more than 20 years, and Mr Fallon said both security and Defence industry would benefit.

    He said the decision to leave the EU does not in any way diminish the UK’s unwavering commitment to world security.

    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

    A vote to leave the EU will not change Britain’s commitment to European and Global security. We are more determined than ever to uphold our defence responsibilities which is why we are doing more in the world today, not less. The UK is a global power with global influence and we’re determined to continue using it for the global good.

    The Defence Secretary met with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Nenchev and confirmed that the UK will send a Type 45 Destroyer to the Black Sea in Spring 2017 as a demonstration of the UK’s on-going commitment to support Bulgaria, NATO’s southern flank, and wider shared security interests. This follows on from the UK gift of 40 Land Rovers to the Bulgarian Border Force this summer.

    Mr Fallon said:

    We want to send a clear message to our Bulgarian and European allies that we are standing strong with them to defeat our shared security threats. By tightening our ties today we’re giving citizens in Bulgaria, the UK and the whole of Eastern Europe greater hope of a brighter future.

    Since the Wales NATO Summit in 2014 the UK has stepped up bi-lateral work with Bulgaria, including several joint exercises, two of which took place on Bulgarian territory for the first time in a decade. British Army and Royal Marine personnel have been collaborating with NATO forces on a range of exercises to improve interoperability. The T45 Destroyer visit follows-on from HMS Duncan’s participation in a training exercise alongside a Bulgarian Navy minesweeper in November last year – the first major Royal Navy vessel in the Black Sea for seven years.

    Mr Fallon said:

    The UK and Bulgaria share the same values, face the same threats and share the same desire to have modern 21st century forces. We also share the same resolve to stand firm against aggression and the same desire to strengthen NATO the cornerstone of our defence.

    Bulgaria remains a partner of vital strategic importance to the UK and the Defence Secretary highlighted the importance of continued investment to ensure their resolve to stand firm in the face of aggression.

    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

    As Bulgaria invests more in defence the UK stands ready to help. We are Europe’s leading defence exporter, generating £4 billion in security exports a year. We have the skills and expertise to help modernise the Bulgarian Armed Forces and want to help develop their capabilities.

    The UK has a world-class technology base and an innovation initiative to harness our brightest brains to help us, and our allies, stay ahead of the curve.

    UK companies are already assisting our Bulgarian friends and we are eager to make even greater progress by forging new friendships and seeing where future collaborations might lead to make our nations safer and more prosperous.

    During the visit Mr Fallon welcomed Bulgaria’s commitment to reaching the NATO Defence investment pledge by 2024.

    The Defence Secretary also met President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borrisov on Wednesday.

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