SOFIA, Bulgaria – The United States does not show comradery with Bulgaria and tries to sell the country “the most expensive vacuum cleaner,” Rumen Petkov, president of Bulgaria’s Alternative Party for the Renaissance (ABR), said in regards to the purchase of US F-16 fighters. The statement comes as general confidence in NATO has deteriorated increasingly in recent times.
“In my opinion, you cannot talk about comrades when they try to sell you the most expensive F-16 vacuum cleaner,” Petkov said in an interview with Kanal 3, adding that the purchase would be relevant for Bulgaria.
Earlier in April, Rumen Petkov stated that Bulgaria “would not scare anyone with the fighters,” instead, it would “only contribute $2 billion to the US economy.”
In December last year, the Bulgarian interministerial commission, when considering the proposals of the USA, Sweden and Italy, decided in favor of the purchase of American fighters, which was considered by Petkov an act of national betrayal. The politician even went so far as to list reasons for Bulgaria to opt for other aircraft.
“Only the F-16 has an engine. There is no driver who prefers one engine instead of two,” Petkov said in December.
Moreover, the politician pointed out that Bulgaria would not pay to import each spare part for the F-16 had it chosen Italian fighters – the importation of the pieces would not entail payment.
“The Eurofighter company has factories almost all over Europe. It would be more logical if it built another one in Bulgaria,” said the president of the Bulgarian party, who also favored the purchase of Swedish Gripen fighters, which are very present on the European continent.
Conversations about buying F-16 fighters began in May, and are expected to end in June. Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov has stated that the price proposed by the US significantly exceeds his country’s budget. He admitted the possibility of reconsidering previous proposals.
Former Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Nenchev, who favors the purchase of US fighters, doubts Bulgaria really wants to buy the F-16s. According to him, the country can play “a sinister scenario”, and, in fact, intends to acquire Gripen fighters.