On the 25th of September 2023 a high-level Strategic Dialogue between Bulgaria and the USA was held in Washington. Bilateral, regional and global issues of priority importance for both countries were discussed. The dialogue was also an occasion to mention the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Gabriel, head of the Bulgarian delegation, and Undersecretary and Senior Political Advisor Derek Scholey opened the forum.

“Today, Bulgaria and the USA are closer than ever as friends, allies and partners,” said Maria Gabriel. The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that today’s challenges put regional and global security to the test. She noted that the second session of the dialogue is taking place after a gap of three years and only 4 months of the tenure of the regular government.

Derek Scholey noted the importance of continuing the strategic dialogue. “Bulgaria is a key partner for the United States and a factor for stability in the region. We welcome your efforts to join Schengen and the Eurozone and support you,” Sholay said in his speech.

Among the main topics of the dialogue were common approaches to regional and global challenges, deepening of cooperation in the field of defense and security, economy and energy, rule of law.

The discussions on the topics were attended by the Minister of Justice Assoc. Dr. Atanas Slavov, the Minister of Energy Rumen Radev, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Milena Stoycheva, the Deputy Ministers – Atanas Zapryanov – of Defense, Ivelina Dundakova – of Internal Affairs and Prof. Dr. George Angelov – of innovation and growth.

During the talks, issues related to the development of the military infrastructure, transportation and transportation of personnel and military property (military mobility) and the multinational battle group stationed on Bulgarian territory were discussed. The possibilities of the Bulgarian defense technological-industrial base for production were also discussed – of ammunition meeting Alliance standards.

Cooperation in the field of cyber security, as well as countering disinformation, were also discussed during the talks.

“Our priority is to turn Bulgaria into a place where high-tech innovations are created,” stated the Minister of Innovation and Growth, Milena Stoycheva. Regarding the NATO Innovation Fund, which has a budget of 1 billion euros for 15 years, Stoycheva indicated that it is expected to start investments by the end of the year. Companies, including Bulgarian ones, will be able to benefit from financing.

“At the beginning of October, it is expected that the constitutional changes will be adopted in the first reading, and by the end of the year, finally,” informed the Minister of Justice Assoc. Dr. Atanas Slavov during the discussions in the panel on the rule of law. He added that only a few days ago a new anti-corruption law was adopted. Prof. Dr. Slavov emphasized that from the first days the government has been working for the reform of the judicial system.

Deputy Minister of Interior Ivelina Dundakova stated that effective countermeasures against cybercrime are a priority for Bulgarian law enforcement agencies. The “Cybercrime” Directorate was established, which focuses its work on uncovering crimes that cause serious financial damage to many Bulgarian companies. In this context, the desire of the Bulgarian side to provide expertise from the specialized federal units was shared, in order to strengthen the possibilities for cyber investigations of criminal groups for defrauding citizens and companies.

Dundakova pointed out that the Ministry of Interior is also taking a number of measures to increase efforts to combat human trafficking, working actively for prevention and assisting victims, especially among vulnerable groups. A desire to participate in trainings for the investigation of crimes related to human trafficking was expressed.

An important result of the Strategic Dialogue was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Bulgaria and the USA to counter the foreign manipulation of information.