Previously, the Defence Ministry told Vagabond in a letter that the tanks were “classified information” because they were kept on military commission, adding they would be declassified as late as 2013. Vagabond started the story about the tanks lined up at the Turkish and Greek borders early in 2007, when it ran a detailed article. Many Bulgarian mainstream media followed suit. The Defence Ministry’s refusal to disclose details about what was known as the Krali Marko Defence Line, prompted the Access to Information Programme, a major NGO, to award it with its anti-prize the same year. No top brass came to collect the embarrassing award.
The real embarrassment, however, came in late 2007, when it emerged that a panzer had been dug out by German collectors and transported out of the country - possibly making it the first tank in history to be stolen and taken through customs without anyone noticing. The Krali Marko Defence Line was established in the 1950s and was operative until the late 1980s. Its purpose was to thwart a possible NATO invasion into Warsaw Pact Bulgaria by Turkey and Greece. Turkey and Greece are now NATO allies. The tanks are finally being consigned to the dustbin of history.