A High Risk Client. The Export of Polish War Materiel to Bulgaria during the Inter-war Period
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Upon the basis of the treaty signed at Neuilly after the first world war, Bulgaria was forced to drastically reduce her armed forces and to limit the outfitting of her military detachments. The enacted resolutions were to be protected by the powers of the victorious coalition and those neighbouring countries which obtained considerable territories at the cost of Bulgaria. The latter included Rumania - an ally of the Republic of Poland - which aimed at consolidating its authority in Southern Dobruja, to which Bulgaria also expressed claims. The aforementioned factors became the reason why Polish exporters of military materiel initially bypassed Bulgaria in their activity pursued in the Balkans from the mid-1920s on. Gradually, they resigned from their stand, hoping for future profits from export transactions, and arguing that the treaty of Neuilly had never been ratified by Poland and that the restraints contained therein did not pertain to certain categories of armaments. The first contracts were signed with Sofia in 1932. The range of the transactions was gradually expanded so as to include successive categories of materiel despite the resentful attitude of the Rumanian ally. In 1936 Poland found herself part of a small group of states providing Bulgaria with battle aircraft and suitable equipment and armament. It was precisely aircraft equipment which was to become the most valuable part of Polish supplies for the Bulgarian army. Up to the outbreak of the second world war, Polish producers outfitted Bulgaria with materiel worth more than 23 million zlotys, making it possible to consider Bulgaria the third or fourth largest recipient of such equipment during the inter-war period. In 1935-1938 materiel comprised, on an average, 41,2 % of Polish export to Bulgaria. The arms traffic was continued to the last peacetime days: consecutive large-scale transactions were being negotiated in August 1939.
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