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Thursday 9 December 2010
117 Field Study on Regional Approaches; visit to Sofia, Bulgaria
Senior Course 117 continued their Regional Approach Field Study with a visit to the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, on Tuesday 7 December. In the morning, NDC staff and course members travelled to the Rakovski National Defence Academy (NDA) where they were welcomed by the Commandant, Major General Gorgijev.
The first lecture, on the theme of Bulgaria's foreign policy priorities and its relations with NATO, the European Union and Russia, was delivered by Ambassador Lubomir Ivanov from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador identified Bulgaria's main foreign policy priority as energy security.
The next speaker, Brigadier General Stefan Ynev, the Director of the Defence Planning Policy Directorate of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MOD), gave an overview of defence policy. He highlighted the budgetary challenges facing the country as a direct result of the global financial crisis, and then delineated Bulgaria’s resourcing strategy for implementing defence reforms.
He was followed by Commodore Georgi Fidanov (N), the Director of the Strategic Planning Directorate of the Bulgarian MOD, who explained the “Transformation of The Bulgarian Armed Forces” and presented the current and future structure of the headquarters. He also illustrated Bulgaria's contribution to international security.
The morning session ended with a most informative presentation by Lieutenant Colonel Hicolay Kocev that focused on the Bulgarian National Defence Academy: its structure and tasks. This was followed by a short Q&A session and the exchange of gifts between the two Commandants.
In the afternoon, course members visited the Bulgarian parliament where they were briefed by Mr Dimitrov, Chairmen of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee, on a number of topics on the committee's agenda. Mr Dimitrov was then joined by three fellow committee members for a long and very interesting Q&A session. The panel of distinguished speakers answered a series of challenging questions posed by the course members and an informative and lively discussion followed. The course members then visited the Bulgarian Parliament and prior to departure, NDC Commandant Lt General Loeser thanked Mr. Dimitrov and all the other participants for their contribution to the visit and wished them every success.
The visit to Sofia ended with a reception hosted by Major General Jordan Jordanov and Vice Admiral Kavaldjiev, Deputy Chiefs of Staff. This special evening gave course members an excellent opportunity to interact with Bulgarian officials and officers in a relaxed and cordial atmosphere.
SC 117 continue the Field Study with a visit to Algeria on 9 December