CURRENT CHALLENGES TO THE BULGARIAN NATIONAL SECURITY Печат
Автор Mihayl Naydenov   
Събота, 29 Ноември 2008 02:07
   The current in depth analysis of the risks and threats to the national security of the Republic of Bulgaria indicates that they, for the most part, coincide with those facing the NATO allies and the other EU member states, as the process of globalization increasingly stimulates the vulnerability and the unpredictability. Here it should be stated that even though the challenges are shared, the key to adequately tackle them lies first and foremost in their prioritization with regard to the exposure of Bulgaria to them. This will facilitate experts and policy makers in outlining and elaborating the most effective measures to adequately deal with them.
   Today Bulgaria faces two challenges which do not yet occupy their due primary place in the domestic security agenda. They can be defined as a “Chronic weakness of society” and “Values turned upside down”. While the stress on the former is on the social-economic and demographic problems, the latter refers to (albeit not solely) the organized crime (increasingly white-collared), corruption (petty and high-level) and the tendency towards their gradual actual establishment as “normally-accepted” social phenomena.
   The “Chronic weakness of society, being a threat to the national security, leads to a lasting inability to create and develop the potential (stress upon the human resources) needed for the country to be efficient and competitive in the globalizing world, and, more specifically – in the club of the highly developed countries of the EU.
   The “Values turned upside down” leads to the public perception of organized crime and corruption, pervading all layers of society, in their current scales and forms, as “inevitable evils”.
   The negative long-term effect of the combined and mutually reinforcing effects of the “Chronic weakness of society” and the “Values turned upside down” is the ensuing inability of the country to take maximum advantage of the opportunities of the EU membership. Moreover, if the abovementioned trends stay unrevised, Bulgaria would remain for the decades to come a country whose development as a member of the EU is considerably slowed down, even stopped, after the formal act of association. The two above said challenges negatively impact the whole potential that the country should build in order to tackle the other remaining risks and threats, which now are given large media coverage.
   It is assumed that Bulgaria would not likely be challenged by some future form of extreme destabilization or a blow coming from abroad. Its greatest and, at the same time, not sufficiently understood threat would in the future result from the fact that the country at present cannot build the necessary potential to take full advantage of the benefits of the EU membership. As a consequence, Bulgaria runs the risk to remain the poorest and the least developed country in the EU for the next 50 years, lagging far behind compared even to the ex-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
   The still unfinished disintegration processes in former Yugoslavia are an acute actual challenge to the national security. So far the Western Balkans have been stabilized, although there is still a need to strengthen the results achieved. It is not to be excluded that ethic and religious confrontation could break out once again on the background of the residual underlying nationalism and extremism. The situation in Kosovo continues to be the riskiest factor to the regional stability, while complications there could affect neighboring countries, primarily the Republic of Macedonia. That is why the continued and stable commitment to the EU and NATO is a key to achieve stability and economic development in the whole South East Europe, thus paving the way for the Euroatlantic integration of the Western Balkans.
   Bulgaria also has a vital interest in strengthening the security in the Black sea region. A possible destabilization of some parts of it could substantially slow down the progress of democracy, rule of law and free market economy, and, eventually of the Euroatlantic integration of the countries which have stated such an intention. This would put an obstacle to the fight with organized crime and the different kinds of traffic resulting therefrom and finally would turn the Black sea into a security “Black hole”. In such a negative scenario, valuable resources of the EU would be diverted away from the economic development of the region. This would result in further division between Uniting Europe and some parts of the region.
   The construction of new corridors for transportation of oil and natural gas through the Black sea guarantees both additional amounts of them to meet the increasing demand on the European markets and an alternative source of supplies. These are crucial conditions for the energy security of the EU and especially of Bulgaria. Actually, nowadays it is not a matter of energy independence, but of a guaranteed flow of supplies in sufficient amounts and at a fair price without sacrificing important state interests. The issue of the protection of critical infrastructure should be mentioned in this context. If not properly protected, it is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, the consequences of which could exceed far away the borders of Bulgaria.
   The conflict in Georgia in August 2008 has proved that the interstate war remains (and will continue to be) a means for some states to achieve their wider foreign policy objectives. In this respect, another challenge for the years to come would be the will of some world major as well as emerging powers to transform the international relations system into a multipolar one, instead of promoting effective multilateralism. And this would not be pursued only via military power alone. Even quite the contrary. More and more, the instruments of soft power, particularly economy and trade (chiefly vital resources), would play an ever-increasing role in their security and foreign policy agendas. The measure of success would continue to shift from the territorial invasion of a country in a given contested geopolitical area to the achievement of a high degree of influence, including through soft power, on its functioning as a member of an alliance or a coalition.
   In the context of the above said, the computer and network security, which will increasingly grow in importance for the country and in particular concerning its ability to tackle the other risks and threats, should also be pointed out. Cyber crime is now a threat not only to companies and persons, but more and more to national security, as about 120 countries use the Internet for political, economic and military espionage. It is expected that cyber attacks (Estonia and Georgia) would become a preferred means of destabilization of the enemy both by states and non-state actors, especially terrorist groups.
   Another risk which will grow in importance and that could turn into a serious threat, given some respective favorable factors, is the illegal migration. At present Bulgaria is not a preferred final destination country, given the socio-economic realities, but in the future this could prove to be a serious challenge that should not be underestimated.
   Ecological risks are no less important to security, as the possible acceleration of climate change could possibly cause serious disasters. So far the country has had to deal with the grave consequences of floods.
   Terrorism, chiefly the Islamism-motivated one, being a major global threat, is of high relevance to the Bulgarian national security. If combined with other challenges it could result in further complications and difficulties in dealing with consequences.
   The proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction is another key threat to the national security. Directly linked to it is the proliferation of the means of delivery of the WMD to their targets, particularly the missile technologies, the international control regime of which is not so strict at present compared to the WMD.