19 Nov 2019: The meeting brought together representative of the board of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, State Department officials, and private sector representatives. A number of influential think tanks also sent representatives: the Hudson Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the National State Sector for State Courts. Also in attendance were former ambassadors to Bulgaria James Pardew and Roderick Moore.
In his introductory remarks, Ambassador Roderick Moore shared the concern about media independence and state capture which a wide range of stakeholders had expressed to him during a recent visit.
Dr. Gounev presented some of ACF’s recent key investigations and addressed the issue of US foreign policy and interests in countering corruption internationally, as well as in Bulgaria. He outlined the transformation over the years of the approach to corruption by successive Bulgarian administrations. Dr. Gounev highlighted the limited role of European institutions to monitor or contribute to the reduction of corruption in Bulgaria.
In the ensuing discussion, Ambassador James Pardew stressed that the United States government and the new US Ambassadors are still in a strong position to exert influence over the government in Bulgaria to tackle corruption. He also highlighted important instruments, such as withdrawal of visas for corrupt officials.
The discussion addressed other possible strategies or measures to address corruption including asset declarations of public officials, independence of media, judicial independence.