The following is the text of a joint statement by the Governments of the United States of America and Bulgaria
The United States and the Republic of Bulgaria have forged a strong and enduring relationship as friends, strategic partners, and Allies that share transatlantic commitments. Recognizing the significant challenges currently facing our two countries and the international order, we affirm the need to develop and solidify the cultural, economic, institutional, and military ties that bind us together to enhance our mutual security, prosperity, and opportunity. We further express our continuing conviction that our relationship remains rooted in our shared commitment to democratic principles and values, including the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Taking into account the substantial progress we have achieved in recent years and looking to the future, we aim to undertake additional efforts to realize further the potential benefits of our strategic partnership in the following areas:
Security and Defense Cooperation
Recognizing the need to enhance our collective security, Bulgaria intends to continue to undertake investments to modernize its military forces, increase interoperability, and meet its declared NATO capability targets. In line with the defense spending pledge made by all Allies at the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, Bulgaria intends to continue to implement its credible plan to reach defense spending targets by 2024.
Both countries intend to build upon the success of our 2006 Defense Cooperation Agreement to co-develop a roadmap to advance bilateral defense cooperation to counter maritime, cyber, and hybrid threats in the Black Sea region over the next decade. This 10-year roadmap will support Bulgaria’s modernization efforts through the provision of security assistance, facilitating access to advanced U.S. defense technology and expanding the scope of military exercises, engagements, and training to bolster further our interoperability and respective capabilities.
Viewing with concern the security situation in the Black Sea, the United States welcomes Bulgaria’s offer to provide a maritime coordination function at Varna in support of NATO’s Tailored Forward Presence initiative. Both countries share a desire to pursue additional cooperation, bilaterally and through NATO, to bolster Bulgaria’s maritime operations capabilities and thereby bolster our collective security along NATO’s southeastern flank.
The United States and Bulgaria expect to convene a high-level strategic dialogue to discuss further the implementation of these goals.
Economic, Trade, and Energy Cooperation
Energy security is national security. The way to ensure Bulgaria’s energy security and lower energy prices lies through real market liberalization and reforms. We want to engage in continued dialogue on this process. Our shared goal is for Bulgaria to become a true gas hub and key source of regional energy security, free of monopolists, foreign or domestic, and operating on market principles. U.S. experience can help Bulgaria create a truly dynamic energy market.
The two countries intend to work together on addressing the challenges of the future. Recognizing Bulgaria’s interest in moving toward more efficient, cleaner sources of energy, we want to cooperate on increasing the supply of gas from reliable sources and diversifying the nuclear energy sector, as well as on increasing the share of sustainable renewables in the overall energy matrix. Continued commercial exchanges in this realm are expected to bolster Bulgaria’s energy security and lower energy prices for the Bulgarian consumer. We recognize the importance of civil nuclear power as a reliable and clean energy source and look forward to working together to find solutions to Bulgaria’s energy needs. To take maximum advantage of secure and affordable gas offered by U.S. liquefied natural gas producers, Bulgaria needs the right infrastructure. Together, we intend to monitor and work to ensure decisive progress on the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria and the Alexandroupolis Floating Storage and Regasification Unit in Greece.
In the interest of deepening our economic relationship and strengthening our commercial links, we intend to enhance our sustained dialogue on investment climate issues. Our goal is to help foster connections between our two countries’ entrepreneurs and to further improve Bulgaria’s investment climate, helping attract additional U.S. investment and know-how. We intend to ensure that investors are treated fairly and that any investment disputes are resolved in a just manner that reinforces investors’ confidence. As part of this dialogue, we intend to identify ways to solidify the positive performance and to extend recent gains in Bulgaria’s Intellectual Property Rights enforcement regime.
Strengthening Democracy and the Rule of Law
Good governance forms the basis of our shared security and prosperity. The United States intends to support Bulgaria as it addresses corruption that limits economic growth and trust in public institutions through robust judicial and law enforcement cooperation and technical assistance and training. These efforts aim to prevent and prosecute high-level corruption, transnational organized crime, and financial crimes in Bulgaria. Bulgaria plans to foster strong economic development by upholding the primacy of law and the sanctity of contracts. The United States and Bulgaria also intend to partner to protect media freedoms.