“Informer” speculates that RN Macedonia refused Bulgarian warplanes
The information that yesterday, 24 December 2019, two Greek warplanes from the base near Larissa flew over the skies of North Macedonia within the framework of a technical (NATO) agreement between Skopje and Athens to keep Macedonian sky safe, was published by several media outlets, including Serbian “Informer”, but with a speculative headline.
By using a title “GREECE TAKES OVER THE MACEDONIAN SKY! Skopje refuses Bulgarian airplanes,” (GRČKA PREUZIMA MAKEDONSKO NEBO! Skoplje ne želi bugarske avione!) “Informer” publishes a speculation, without any basis, which does not come from the information itself, nor from other sources that would support the headline.
Except for this speculative headline, the information was correctly conveyed (sources are “Tanjug”, citing “Telma” and the RNM Ministry of Defense), and the speculation was derived from the last sentence stating that “Bulgaria also offered control over the Macedonian sky.”
NATO AIR POLICING MISSION DOES NOT RECOGNIZE “I REFUSE – I ACCEPT”
If one pays a little more attention to the news, the following facts emerge.
First, this is a continuing mission of NATO member states called “Air policing“. It is an activity of the Alliance with an aim to keep a constant eye on the sky over the entire area covered by NATO, i.e. to watch over 30,000 airspace flights of Alliance member states. As part of this continuous activity, each member state must provide at least two hunting aircraft on duty – interceptors in full combat readiness 24/7, to intervene if something unforeseen happens. Those member states that do not have aircrafts of this type such as the Baltic states, Slovenia, Montenegro or Macedonia, receive this type of service from other NATO member states.
After signing the Prespa Agreement, the change of the Constitution and the invitation to North Macedonia in becoming a NATO member, it is true that Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey have expressed a wish to protect the Macedonian sky. Skopje, however, reached an agreement with Athens, and an agreement was signed in September at a meeting of the Chief of the ARNM General Staff, General Vasko Gjurčinovski, with his Greek counterpart, Christos Christodoulou, in Thessaloniki.
BULGARIA IS WAITING FOR THE US F-16
On the other hand, according to the information available, Skopje has reached an agreement with Bulgaria for sky control as early as July this year. However, the agreement, according to the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, will come into force as soon as Bulgaria receives the first eight F-16s in its air force. The deal was approved by the Parliament in Sofia in July this year, and the manufacturer “Lockheed Martin” announced in September that the planes will be delivered in 2022.
Therefore, “Informer”, without any argument and by a speculative headline, misinforms its readers about the relations between RN Macedonia and Bulgaria. On the contrary, guarding the skies is a common practice in NATO, as is the case with Montenegro, where Italy and Greece are in charge of the Montenegrin skies or the Baltic states, whose skies are always guarded by three major European NATO member states.