Bulgaria, U.S. Reaffirm Commitment to Bilateral Partnership in Key Areas

Diplomacy | May 7, 2016, Saturday // 16:15|  views

Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov (R) and visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands after talks in Sofia, 7 May 2016. Photo: mfa.bg

Bulgaria and the United States on Saturday welcomed progress of the five high-level working groups launched last yearto deepen and strengthen the strategic partnership of the two countries in five key areas.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov and visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken “also charted an ambitious course for future bilateral and multilateral cooperation”, the two sides said in a joint statement released after talks in Sofia.

The working group on energy security will focus on projects in gas supply and nuclear power sectors in the coming year.

These include advancing construction of the Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnector (IGB) as well as expansion of the underground gas storage facility in Chiren.

With regard to Bulgaria’s sole Kozloduy nuclear power plant, the working group will focus on developing and executing an action plan for licensing for alternative nuclear fuel supply prior to the plant’s next nuclear fuel supply tender as well as on initiating a feasibility study of dry cask storage for spent nuclear fuel for the two operating units of the plant.

“By undertaking these energy diversification projects, Bulgaria could increase its access to alternative supplies of gas through the IGB and take the first step in building and connecting infrastructure throughout the region that could change energy markets here for decades to come,” according to the statement

The working group on security and defense, another one of the five areas of partnership, will coordinate additional project management training and will offer procurement options for further modernization in the months ahead.

The group will also support the establishment of a separate special operations function within Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry, and provide training and potential funding for the Military Cyber Incident Response Center (MCIRT).

Development of strategic planning documents and improvements to information exchange and coordination among Bulgarian agencies in response to active threats are listed as two of the future priorities for cooperation of the working group on counterterrorism.

This group will also work for enhancing Bulgaria’s access to additional screening tools for persons of interest traveling across Bulgaria’s borders as well as providing specialized training of Bulgarian law enforcement officials on techniques for interviewing terrorist subjects.

Future goals for the working group on the rule of law include bolstering the capacity of the Bulgarian government to prevent conflict of interest and implementing e-procurement initiatives, according to the statement.

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Tags: Bulgaria, United States, Mitov, Blinken, energy, diversification, Kozloduy, gas, interconnector, greece


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