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Middle East conflicts boost Bulgarian arms exports
by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) Aug 31, 2017


Conflicts in the Middle East boosted Bulgaria's arms exports by almost 60 percent in 2016 to record levels not seen since the end of communism, official data showed Thursday.

Bulgaria, which specialises in the production of light-weight Soviet-style weapons and munitions, exported over 1.0 billion euros' ($1.2 billion) worth of arms in 2016 compared to 642 million in 2015 and 402 million in 2014.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia were the main buyers, followed by the United States, Afghanistan, Croatia, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt and Russia, the annual report of the export control committee showed.

Experts believe that many of weapons exported by Bulgaria -- and other countries in the region -- end up in war-hit Syria and Yemen after being re-exported by Saudi Arabia and the US to armed groups in these countries.

A 2014 study by the British Conflict Armament Research organisation concluded that one quarter of the munitions used by the Islamic State group in northern Iraq and Syria were Bulgarian-made.

Bulgaria's economy ministry, which greenlights all arms exports, had downplayed the issue, saying that it cannot be held accountable for any re-exports.

Bulgaria makes "Russian models that are not expensive and are easy to use," expert Tihomir Bezlov from the Sofia-based think-tank Centre for the Study of Democracy commented recently to AFP.

During communism, Bulgaria traditionally exported an annual 800 million dollars' (670 million euros') worth of arms to pro-Soviet regimes and movements in the Middle East and Africa.

MILPLEX
Defence firms eye billion-dollar chance for 'made in India'
New Delhi (AFP) Aug 20, 2017
India has drawn up a shopping list for tens of billions of dollars of foreign fighter jets, armoured vehicles, submarines and helicopters but it will only sign the cheques if they are made in India. The world's largest defence importer has announced a new policy inviting foreign defence manufacturers to set up shop as minority partners in India. It initiated the bidding process for submarine ... read more

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