US Senators: Corruption Sours Our Relations with Bulgaria
Persistent corruption, restricted media freedom, the politicization of the judiciary, as well as other threats to the rule of law pose serious challenges to bilateral relations between the United States and Bulgaria.
This was written in a joint statement by the US senators from the Foreign Policy Committee in connection with the launch of the election campaign in Bulgaria. The statement was signed by committee Chairman Bob Menendez (a Democrat from New Jersey) and the committee's most senior Republican, Jim Risch of Idaho.
The United States and Bulgaria have stable relations. Like ties within NATO, they are the strongest when they rest on shared democratic values. "We would like to see this relationship continue to develop, especially with regard to shared security and energy objectives, but persistent corruption, the curbing of media freedom, politicization of the judiciary and other threats to the rule of law pose serious challenges to bilateral relations between the United States and Bulgaria," the letter reads.
The senators remind that in the EU Bulgaria is at the bottom of the corruption ranking of Transparency International for 2019, as well as in the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders. These rankings highlight how great are the challenges facing Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government and judiciary must work harder to uphold the rule of law for all, not just the select few, and the media should have the freedom to report the truth without fear of harassment, violence or punishment, the senators explain.
They also remind that for eight months the people of Bulgaria have been staging protests demanding to put an end to corruption, reinstate the rule of law and respect for democratic values.
"As the parliamentary election in April is approaching, it is imperative that the Government of Bulgaria defends these values. And in the spirit of our long-standing relations, the US must uphold these calls and assist Bulgaria in the fight against corruption, the restoration of independent media and the promotion of the rule of law.
The steps Bulgaria is taking to address these issues will only serve to further strengthen our relations," the statement concludes.
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