Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov of Bulgaria to NATO Headquarters on Thursday (29 June 2023) to discuss final preparations for the upcoming Vilnius Summit.
“Bulgaria is on the front line of some of the gravest challenges we face,” and “plays an important role in our collective response,” said the Secretary General. He praised Bulgaria’s contributions to Black Sea region security, including by hosting the Italian-led NATO battlegroup, and by participating in Allied naval patrols. He also thanked Bulgaria for playing a key role in NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, and for contributing to NATO’s training mission in Iraq.
“NATO will continue to support and defend Bulgaria,” said Mr Stoltenberg. At the upcoming Vilnius Summit, Allies will further enhance NATO’s collective deterrence and defence. They will decide on new regional plans, with assigned forces, exercises, and capabilities. This will involve putting 300,000 forces on higher readiness, backed by substantial sea and air capabilities. NATO’s new rotational model for air and missile defence will also help move quickly from air policing to air defence if needed. “All this sends a clear message: NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory,” the Secretary General stressed.
Stepping up NATO’s support for Ukraine will be another top priority for the Summit, including with a multi-year assistance package, upgraded political ties, and by reaffirming that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. The Secretary General thanked Bulgaria for providing military and humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people, saying that this helps to uphold their right to self-defence as enshrined in the UN Charter.
“To continue strengthening NATO and supporting Ukraine, we need to invest more in our security,” said Mr Stoltenberg, noting that Allies will agree a more ambitious defence investment pledge at the Summit.