SOFIA (Bulgaria) July 7 (SeeNews) – Bulgaria will buy from France two Gowind corvettes worth a total 350 million euro ($547 million), halving previous plans for four ships over lack of funding, Bulgarian media reported on Monday.
“Due to lack of money, the government will buy two instead of four ships for 350 million euro,” Sofia-based Dnevnik daily quoted Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Tsonev as saying.
Bulgaria was expected to buy four Gowind-type corvettes with an estimated value of some 750 million euro from French company Armaris.
The deal will be beneficial for Bulgaria as it will involve significant offset arrangements, Dnevnik quoted Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev as saying after meeting his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Friday. Stanishev and Sarkozy signed a strategic agreement for cooperation in the fight against terrorism, transborder organised crime and the proliferation of weapons for mass destruction.
The deal is part of the country's programme to modernise its armed forces and upgrade military equipment to NATO standards. Bulgaria joined the military alliance in 2004.
In 2005 Bulgaria bought 18 helicopters from France's Eurocopter in a 360 million euro deal and signed an offset agreement for 354 million euros, of which 106 million euro were to be invested in commercial projects.
($ = 0.6398 euro)