US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Bulgarian counterpart Ivailo Kalfin have signed an agreement that will see around 2,500 American troops based on Bulgarian soil. It marks another step in Washington’s reorganisation of its military presence after the Cold War.
The Bulgarian parliament is yet to ratify the document, which is seen as an effort by Sofia to repay Washington for supporting its entry into Nato.
Rice said: “It is the agreement that indeed will enhance our cooperation, allowing the shared use of Bulgarian training facilities and strengthening our ability to operate together militarily.”
The deal covers four sites, two of them near the Turkish border and a third close to the port of Bourgas.
The US will be able to use them to launch attacks on third countries, with the Bulgarians’ permission.
Sofia’s enthusiasm for the initiative appears to be at odds with public opinion.
A recent poll showed 60 per cent of Bulgarians do not want to American bases in their country, despite the much needed inward investment and jobs they willprovide.