|06SOFIA743||2006-05-26 10:14:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Sofia|
VZCZCXYZ0038 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHSF #0743/01 1461014 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 261014Z MAY 06 FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1972 INFO RUEHXP/ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0665 RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 1315 RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 0012 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0097 RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU PRIORITY 0220 RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KIEV PRIORITY 0503 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0552 RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0213 RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN PRIORITY 0028 RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
1. (C) SUMMARY. A cautious Bulgarian delegation, led by
Foreign Minister Kalfin, will attend the June 5 Black Sea
Forum. The GOB's Black Sea interagency working group has not
yet made a recommendation on Bulgarian participation in
Operation Black Sea Harmony (OBSH), and the Bulgarians are
looking for specifics on exactly what this participation will
entail. Bulgaria is ready to share information and suggests
expanding the role of the Burgas Center, which currently
exchanges data between littoral interior ministries. Most
importantly, they are looking for specifics on any planned
U.S. or NATO role in the Black Sea. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) In response to reftel demarche, referring to OBSH,
Plamen Bonchev, Director of the MFA's NATO and International
Security Directorate, said that "a national operation should
not be the basis for regional security in the Black Sea." He
said NATO has a "strategic responsibility" in the region, and
Bulgaria favors expanding Operation Active Endeavor (OAE)
into the Black Sea. In a bilateral meeting April 29, the MFA
informed Turkey that Bulgaria did not yet have an official
position on OBSH. Both sides agreed to meet again in
mid-June. According to Bonchev, this meeting would be
postponed if Bulgaria does not have an official position by
then. He mentioned that Romania held similar talks with
Turkey May 9.
3. (C) Bonchev raised a number of challenges to Bulgarian
participation in OBSH:
- Under Bulgarian law, the exchange of classified information
with Turkey would require a bilateral memorandum of
understanding unless the exchange occurs within the framework
of NATO. Bulgaria has offered to sign such a memorandum, but
the Turks "were only interested in exchanging economic
- The GOB is also concerned about financial and resource
challenges associated with participation in OBSH.
- The GOB has questions about the modalities of the command
relationship between Turkish and Bulgarian forces.
Poloff reiterated that Bulgaria's membership in OBSH would
not preclude, but facilitate, future U.S. or NATO involvement
and stressed the U.S. desire to encourage Bulgaria's
cooperation with Turkey in developing a practical concept of
operation for an expanded OBSH.
4. (C) Bonchev was clear that "a NATO face" is key in the
Black Sea. Recognizing that OAE is not likely to be extended
into the Black Sea, Bulgaria's preferred option is "NATO
engagement based on national operations linked directly to
NATO." Rather than sharing information with Turkey, Bulgaria
prefers to provide maritime surveillance information directly
to the Allied Maritime Component Command (CCMAR) in Naples
through NATO channels. The information could then be
combined with OAE to provide an integrated picture of the
Mediterranean and Black Sea.
5. (C) DCM met with Deputy Defense Minister Sonya Yankulova
and Yordan Bozhilov, Director of the MOD's International
Cooperation Directorate, May 23 to discuss the reftel points
at the MOD. Yankulova echoed the MFA's concerns and asked
for more information on how the U.S. envisions its role in
the Black Sea and any possible U.S./NATO involvement in OBSH.
She said that "Bulgaria is ready to share information with
CCMAR," and offered to explore ways to expand the role of the
Burgas Center, a multi-national information fusion center for
littoral ministries of interior. According to Bozhilov,
Russia is ready to send officers to participate in OBSH's
command structure. He wondered how Bulgaria would share
information with a command that includes non-NATO officers.
6. (C) COMMENT. The GOB is approaching the idea of OBSH
participation in a cautious but constructive manner despite
concerns of Turkish domination. They appear ready to share
information on national Black Sea activities but would prefer
a more collective information conduit to NATO. The
Bulgarians are eager to use the June 5 Black Sea Forum as an
opportunity to discuss many of their questions and concerns.