The new so-called “U.S. Embassy Government” in Bulgaria is living up to its nickname. On Monday, Bulgaria’s new defense minister Todor Tagarev declared at a meeting with Bulgaria’s military attaches that Bulgaria should provide forward deployment for allied forces on the Black Sea coast even if such a move violates the Montreux Convention. Effectively, this would mean the establishment of an American naval base on the Black Sea coast. Tagarev’s declaration clearly had tacit support from the U.S. Embassy which is responsible for the ruling coalition in Sofia.
The Montreux Convention, signed in 1936, prohibits the presence of foreign warships from countries that do not border the Black Sea, for periods longer than 21 days. The purpose of the international convention was to prevent the militarization of the Black Sea region. Violation of the agreement gives any Black Sea state the legitimate right to declare foreign warships that remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days as legitimate military targets. The establishment of an American naval base in the Black Sea would not only violate international law, but result in a serious escalation of the military conflict plaguing the region.
Bulgarian National Television quoted Tagarev on Monday as saying: “Notwithstanding the Montreux Convention, Bulgaria must ensure that our allies are able to help us secure the Black Sea region with intelligence and means of effective influence, such as the so-called 'kinetic weapons.” The Bulgarian Defense Minister also wants to increase foreign military presence on Bulgarian territory.
The leader of Vazrazhdane, the principal opposition party in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, Kostadin Kostadinov, condemned the reckless and irresponsible declarations of the defense minister, stating, “The individual Tagarev dared to state that we should consider expanding the allied naval potential in the Black Sea by creating a possible naval base of the United States in Bulgaria.” He explained that the presence of American warships in the Black Sea is not the problem, “Americans do this regularly, but they comply with the Montreux Convention and on the 21st day at the latest their ships leave the Black Sea, and then other ships arrive.” This is a system called naval rotation.
Kostadinov warned that bringing in any foreign military non-Black-Sea fleet during an ongoing war would further escalate tensions. He warned the government not to play with fire.