Bulgarian leader calls for stronger European Union

Associated Press

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria's president has called for a stronger European Union in response to the crisis in the Ukraine.

Speaking at a military parade in the capital, Sofia, on Tuesday, President Rosen Plevneliev said the "correct answer to the economic problems, rising nationalism and the Ukraine crisis is: more Europe."

He added that "we have to work for a new level of defense and energy integration, for a stronger European Union."

Plevneliev called for an increase in next year's military budget to 1.5 percent of GDP from the current 1.3 percent and for a swift replacement of Bulgaria's outdated Russian-built military equipment to comply with NATO standards.

He said ten years after Bulgaria joined NATO, its membership in the alliance is the country's main guarantee for its independence.

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