DISINFO: Bulgaria is a chaotic passageway for disorderly NATO forces
A series of recent scandalous incidents related to NATO exercises highlighted how Bulgaria has become a disorderly gateway for foreign forces. American and Turkish military units, who were recently in the country as part of a NATO exercise, made separate shocking mistakes and caused great distress to Bulgarian locals.
A recurring disinformation narrative that distorts Bulgaria’s role in NATO and presents NATO forces as incompetent and security concern. It does so by misrepresenting and exaggerating the significance of two recent incidents connected to American and Turkish military units that were participating in a NATO exercise (Steadfast Defender 2021) in Bulgaria.
In the first incident, American soldiers made a genuine mistake on 11 May 2021 when they searched the building of a private business which the soldiers thought was part of the exercise. The owner of the business will seek legal compensation and has filed complaints with civil and military prosecutors. Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defence has apologised to the owner, who will be compensated for any damages, and stated that no coercion or violence was used by the American soldiers. The American Embassy in Sofia also offered its sincere apologies to the company.
On the same day, a Turkish convoy in the northern part of the country had some issues when one of the trucks suffered a malfunction and later part of the convoy made a wrong turn. There are no official or media reports to confirm that the temporarily lost convoy “frightened to death” some remote villagers, as the article claims. There is no evidence that this incident led to any significant consequences for the exercise or local residents.
In practice, these incidents were not the national scandals the article purposefully makes them out to be and are not proof of widespread disorder by foreign NATO forces, as the article claims. Bulgaria has been a member of NATO since 2004 and membership in the organisation has been supported by a majority of Bulgarians since then. Bulgaria is a proud and active member of the Alliance and hosted multiple NATO exercises in 2021, during which these were the only two known incidents with foreign forces.
The general purpose of NATO exercises is to “test procedures and tactics, develop best practices and identify areas for improvement”. NATO exercises are non-confrontational, announced well in advance, follow strict protocol and discipline, and are subject to local and international scrutiny. There is no tangible evidence to support the notion that NATO forces in Bulgaria are a security concern. In fact, NATO's presence in Bulgaria guarantees the country's continued independence and sovereignty, especially in the face of a worsening security situation in Europe due to Kremlin's aggressive foreign policy.
Read similar cases of disinformation claiming that Bulgarians have not seen any significant benefits from membership of the EU and NATO, that German troops in Lithuania are behaving like during WWII and that Baltic states' membership in NATO resulted in degradation of national security.