Sofia, 19 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's new military chief of staff today announced plans to turn the country's army from a conscript into a professional one and to reduce its personnel by 10 percent.
The state news agency BTA says Col. Gen. Miho Mihov told reporters that Bulgaria would start offering three-year contracts for professional soldiers as of September 1. For the time being the army will remain a mix of professional soldiers and conscripts, serving 12 to 18 months.
Mihov also announced a 10-percent cut in the 100,000-strong army. He pledged to streamline the army's command bodies and to crack down on alleged corruption.
Observers say the army has been hard-hit by Bulgaria's severe economic crisis, from which the country is now struggling to emerge.