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US military bases in Bulgaria - only if both countries satisfied

Date: 27.09.2005

Robert Loftis of the US Department of State and the heads of the foreign policy and defense committees of Bulgaria did not reach an agreement on the talks on US military bases deployment.

A day earlier it emerged that the armed forces of Bulgaria and the United States will jointly use military facilities on the territory of the Balkan country. In the words of Loftis Bulgaria will not see the establishment of traditional US bases here. This implies that the US will not pay rent for using the facilities, he told journalists.

As Loftis said, nothing can be settled unless both countries agree with all the requirements and provisions of the contract.

He refused to comment exactly what the status of the American soldiers in Bulgaria will be.

However Volen Siderov, leader of the Bulgarian nationalist faction Ataka shared his view that the US military bases in Bulgaria would have the statute of invaders. He claimed that Loftis did what the US usually do in such situations - namely demand complete freedom of action.

Not only that, Siderov added, but Loftis actually said that the countries can only reach an agreement if the conditions are to his country's satisfaction, completely leaving Bulgaria's interests out of the picture.

Ataka would demand the question to be solved with a referendum, Siderov said and added that his party would organize protests against the American bases.

At the end of September the chair of the Parliamentary committee on foreign policy and former Foreign Minister Solomon Passy announced that the firing field of Novo Selo, the airport at Bezmer and the Burgas port are subject of the negotiations between NATO and Bulgaria.

Ivaylo Kalfin, the new foreign minister, surprisingly slammed as "rushed" the former foreign minister's pledge. In his words talks over the bases were still in the initial stages, while the final decision on their establishment here would need the sanction of the Bulgarian society.

The USA and NATO have been eyeing Bulgarian military bases for troops deployment possibilities. As an expected outer door of the EU, should it become member of the Union in 2007, and an effective Alliance member, Bulgaria is considered a strategic partner in the western policy to the Near and Far East, and Russia.

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