Top Diplomats of Bulgaria, US Meet, Bilateral Memorandum Signed to Increase Cooperation to Counter Foreign Information Manipulation

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The bilateral meeting took place in Washington within the second session of the strategic dialogue between Bulgaria and the US, the press centre of the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

“Support, coordination and common response to challenges” are the messages of Gabriel’s meeting with the US Secretary of State. In a statement, she expresses her gratitude for the warm welcome as Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria. “Bulgaria is a strategic partner, an important ally, and a friend”, Gabriel said.

“The successful second session of the strategic dialogue between Bulgaria and the US and our common priorities based on democratic values and respect for the international legal order are encouraging. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Bulgaria and the US on countering foreign manipulation of information is of key importance in an environment of increasing hybrid attacks and disinformation,” she stressed.

“In a constructive and friendly spirit, within the framework of the strategic dialogue, we identified common approaches to global and regional problems. We also have concrete intentions to expand cooperation in the fields of economy, innovation and energy. We will also work together to protect democracy and strengthen the rule of law. Bilateral relations will aim to benefit the citizens of both countries,” Gabriel concluded.

The United States and Bulgaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Monday, September 25, that increases cooperation to counter foreign information manipulation. The MOU, signed by Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Liz Allen and Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Gabriel, provides a strong foundation for both countries to work together against the spread of disinformation and media manipulation, an increasing threat in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a media note on the website of the US Department of State.

The MOU signals a commitment by the United States and Bulgaria to develop a shared approach to better understanding foreign disinformation and building collaborative mechanisms to counteract its threat. The United States and Bulgaria recognize that authoritarian governments manipulate information and spread disinformation to influence people around the world. This MOU demonstrates the commitment of the United States and Bulgaria to work together, and with like-minded nations, to counteract information manipulation. This cooperation includes national policy making, support for civil society, and multilateral engagement, the media note reads.

A statement by the US State Department points out that the Dialogue aligned with the 120th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between the United States and Bulgaria.  It goes on to catalogue the priorities that the two sides are committed to advancing:

“Common Approaches to Global and Regional Issues

We stand resolutely united in support of Ukraine.  Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine blatantly violates international law, threatens the rules-based international order, and undermines the stability of Europe, including the security of the Black Sea region.  We share the goal of a secure, prosperous, and interconnected Black Sea region that is free from threats to territorial integrity, economic coercion, and malign influence.

Deepening Defense and Security Cooperation

Noting Bulgaria’s strategic position in the region and within NATO, we are growing our defense partnership to improve security in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, including through our joint participation in the multinational NATO battlegroup hosted by Bulgaria.  Our robust cooperation enhances NATO interoperability, advances Bulgaria’s defense modernization efforts, and further develops Bulgaria’s defense industrial sector.

Expanding Economic and Energy Cooperation

We noted Bulgaria’s significant progress in diversifying its energy sector and further reducing its dependence on Russian energy resources.  We are working together to create a more resilient energy market, expand our civil nuclear cooperation, and accelerate the transition to low-carbon and renewable energy sources.  We plan to collaborate on expanding bilateral trade and investment ties by promoting innovation, adopting effective governance of new technologies, and fostering a favorable business environment, and we will consider how to expand our cooperation on emerging technology and space policy.  We intend to prioritize the screening of foreign direct investments to ensure national security.

Defending Democracy and Strengthening Rule of Law

Acknowledging the importance of deepening and extending our cooperation on countering foreign disinformation and propaganda, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Countering Foreign Information Manipulation.  We are working to achieve tangible and practical results that will help safeguard our democracies by countering the growing threat of foreign malign influence and state-sponsored disinformation.  We also underscored our continuing efforts to strengthening the rule of law and ensuring judicial independence, and we intend to continue joint efforts to eradicate the scourge of trafficking in persons.

Broadening Bilateral Ties

We recognized our abiding people-to-people ties and will continue to nurture them through academic, cultural, and professional exchanges.  Both sides welcomed Bulgaria’s progress towards inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, and the United States reaffirmed its support of Bulgaria’s ongoing efforts to fulfill the legal requirements for admission into the program,” the State Department said.