Ambassador Merten: Partnership Is at the Core of the US-Bulgaria Relationship

US Ambassador to Bulgaria Kenneth H. Merten

Remarks by Kenneth H. Merten, US Ambassador to Bulgaria, at the America for Bulgaria Foundation’s fifteenth-anniversary forum on September 29, 2023

It is great to be here. Thank you for the invitation. I am really honored to have a chance to celebrate this special occasion — the 15th anniversary of the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

When I look out upon this audience here at NDK [National Palace of Culture, ed.], it drives home to me just how deep and far-reaching [an] impact ABF has had here in Bulgaria. Over 15 years, the America for Bulgaria Foundation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars that have uplifted Bulgaria’s small businesses and entrepreneurs; and boosted academic excellence, scientific innovation; and strengthened Bulgaria’s civil society and respect for the rule of law; and enhanced international appreciation for Bulgaria’s absolutely world-class and exquisite cultural heritage.

I don’t want to steal Nancy’s thunder, but I want to say how much I appreciate the theme of this year’s forum — “The Power of &”. Indeed, what impresses me most about the America for Bulgaria Foundation is how you have brought together the very best of both the United States and Bulgaria to effect positive change. The very best of American optimism and Bulgarian potential.

Now, despite of what some people in Bulgaria might think, [the] America for Bulgaria Foundation is not part of the US Embassy. And the US Embassy is not part of America for Bulgaria. We are independent organizations. But we are partners, and we are partners because we share values.

We both want to work with Bulgarians here to see a country where private enterprises are successful, where everybody has a chance to create a better life for her or himself, where respect for rule of law is universal. And where everybody can help themselves and their colleagues to achieve academic excellence.

We want Bulgaria to reach its full potential. Why? Because a strong Bulgaria is in the United States’ best interest. We want to have, and do have, a good partner here in this country. And we want to work to make this partnership better. In fact, this is what partnership is all about. And at a time when our societies are increasingly polarized, this is a message we need to double down on: partnership.

Partnership is at the core of the US-Bulgaria relationship. And it’s what we have been celebrating all throughout this year, as we mark 120 years of diplomatic relations.

I just came back from Washington late yesterday afternoon. We had our first Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in several years. And it struck both me and the Bulgarian delegation just how much we do share and how much we want to see a better world for our children and our colleagues to live in.

I want to say that ABF has played such a pivotal role in that storied history of US-Bulgaria relations, and as I’ve said before, I’m convinced the best is yet to come.

We need to keep our eyes on the future.

So, congratulations to ABF and to all of your grantees. I wish you a wonderful, happy 15th anniversary, and thanks for letting me join you here today!

Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Annual Community Forum 2023, #15YearsOfOptimism from America for Bulgaria Foundation on Vimeo.


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