site.btaBulgaria, US Hold High-Level Strategic Dialogue
A Strategic Dialogue between Bulgaria and the United States was held at high level in Washington on September 25, reads a joint press release of Bulgaria's ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Innovation and Growth, Defence, Interior, and Energy published on Tuesday. Discussed were bilateral, regional, and global matters of priority importance for the two countries. This year, Bulgaria and the US mark 120 years since the establishment of their bilateral diplomatic relations.
The Bulgarian delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel. She unveiled the forum together with Derek Chollet, Under Secretary and senior policy advisor to the US Secretary of State.
In her address, Gabriel said that today, Bulgaria and the US are closer than ever as friends, allies, and partners. Today's challenges put regional and global security to the test, she added.
Chollet noted the importance of continuing the strategic dialogue. In his words, Bulgaria is a key partner of the US and a factor for stability in the region. The US praises Bulgaria's efforts to join Schengen and the eurozone and supports Bulgaria, he said.
Among the main topics of the strategic dialogue were common approaches to regional and global challenges, deepening of the cooperation in defence and security, economy and energy, rule of law.
Participating in the discussions on these topics were Justice Minister Atanas Slavov, Energy Minister Rumen Radev, Innovation and Growth Minister Milena Stoycheva, and deputy ministers Atanas Zapryanov of Defence, Ivelina Doundakova of Interior, and Georgi Angelov of Innovation and Growth.
Discussed during the talks were matters related to the development of Bulgaria's military infrastructure, transportation of personnel and military property, and NATO's multinational battlegroup on Bulgarian territory. Also discussed were the options for the Bulgarian defence technological and industrial base to manufacture ammunition meeting the Alliance's standards.
Cooperation in cyber security and countering misinformation also featured on the agenda of the talks.
Innovation Minister Stoycheva said: "It is our priority to turn Bulgaria into a place where high-tech innovations are created." The NATO Innovation Fund, which has a budget of EUR 1 billion for 15 years, is expected to begin investing by the end of 2023. The funding will be for companies, including Bulgarian ones, she specified.
During the discussions on rule of law, Justice Minister Slavov said that the draft constitutional amendments are expected to be adopted on first reading in early October and passed by the end of 2023.
Deputy Interior Minister Doundakova said countering cybercrime effectively is a priority for her ministry. A Cybercrime directorate has been set up that focuses on uncovering crimes that cause significant financial damage to many Bulgarian companies. In this context, the Bulgarian side requested expert opinions from the specialized federal units so as to strengthen the capabilities for cyber investigations of crime groups defrauding citizens and companies.
She also said that the Interior Ministry undertakes a series of measures to increase the efforts for fighting trafficking in human beings, and works actively on prevention and support for victims, particularly among vulnerable groups. The Bulgarian side requested to participate in trainings on investigation of crimes related to human trafficking.
An important result of the Strategic Dialogue was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that increases cooperation to counter foreign information manipulation.
After the forum, the results from the discussions were summarized in a joint statement, the press release reads.