Roderick W. Moore, a US Diplomat Making Comeback to Bulgaria
The US Embassy announced earlier this week that Roderick Moore would assume duties as the interim Charg? d'Affairs in Sofia on August 5, a week after Ambassador Marcie Ries departed from Bulgaria.
Given Mr Moore's strong presence as Deputy Head of Mission here in the early 2000s and his sometimes pioneering role in Western Balkan nations over the past two decades, Novinite has sought to summarize the developments in his career that should be remembered.
Roderick W. Moore, the US diplomat who will take over next week as Charg? d'Affaires ad interim of his country's embassy in Sofia, is in no way a newcomer to Bulgaria – nor is he unfamiliar with regional dynamics. Mr Moore, whose latest job is State Department Advisor at the Naval College in Newport, Rhode Island, is actually returning to a region he had had the opportunity to explore for nearly 20 years.
Bulgaria, however, seems to have quite a special place in his diplomatic career so far, even though he is expected to run the embassy only a few months until the Department of State has picked a successor to Ms Marcie Ries as the next US Ambassador.
In 2000 he arrived in Sofia to become Deputy Chief of Mission, and served as Charg? d'Affaires for a few months in 2002, before James W Pardew had taken over from Richard M. Miles whose term expired early in the same year.
Over the three years spent here, Mr Moore was often in spotlight, partly due to his comments on the judicial system and the high level of corruption in Bulgaria. He then repeatedly pointed to judicial reforms as the key challenge facing the country – and is coincidentally coming back at a time when these are again on the agenda. He had also described corruption in Bulgaria quite simply: as "too evident".
In a 2002 interview with Novinite, he also urged "all Bulgarians - not just politicians and judges... to take responsibility for the high level of tolerance of white collar crime."
And he made no secret of US plans to become the top investor in Bulgaria.
Moore spared no effort to convey the embassy's position on a number of bilateral issues. For instance he took an active stand when Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov triggered a scandal by a joke which helped hint at involvement of a US representative in Sofia in a (supposed) top-level bribery scheme aiming at the dismissal of Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev.
Last but not least, he had another major role: a key "communicator" for Bulgarians on US activities in Iraq as the US offensive began in 2003.
His experience was also partially drawn by the fact that he had already served as a diplomatic official here between 1990 and 1992, in the very first years when Bulgaria was making its first steps back to democracy. Leaving in 2003, he said in an interview with Dnevnik (now a news website, then a newspaper) that Bulgaria had changed "tremendously" in the decade between his first and second appointment - and that the direction had been a positive one.
A little before, in Novinite's interview, he had summarized his views of Bulgaria in a nutshell: "Promising, progressive partner."
Most of Mr Moore’s professional experience is somewhat related to the Western Balkans, though he also has knowledge of Eastern Europe in general. At the Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he obtained his Bachelor's (Russian Studies) and Master's (Slavic Studies) degrees in the 1980s, he studied a number of Eastern European languages such as Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Russian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Czech.
Early in his diplomatic career, Macedonia's capital Skopje was his third appointment after Sofia and Port-au-Prince (Haiti). In Skopje he served as the Department of State's first representative between 1992 and 1993 - it wasn't until a year later that Macedonia was formally recognized by the United States. Immediately after that, in 1993, he took over as a political-military officer in the Department of State for all states in Central and Eastern Europe (1993-1995). In Zagreb, Croatia, he was Political-Economic Counselor at the American Embassy (1996 - 1999). Later he became Senior Political Adviser at the Office of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1996).
Between 2004 and 2007, after his DCM mission in Sofia, he took up the same office at Washington's mission in Belgrade, and then between 2007 and 2010 was the first-ever US Ambassador to Montenegro. There he quickly showed he felt quite comfortable with the languages he had studied at the university when, upon arrival to Podgorica, he made two separate video addresses: one in English and in Montenegrin. Ever since then he would normally do his interviews for local media in the latter language. At the time he had just moved there, Montenegro was "the newest independent state" which Moore believed (as he said in a Senate hearing presided by then Senator Barack Obama), "although it is small in size, [it] can play an outsized role in the partnership with us in the global arena" he said during its confirmation before the senate.
After his Montenegro appointment expired, he took over as Principle Deputy High Representative and Brcko District Supervisor at the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, an office that was suspended in 2012.
Why do we need this timeline?
Just to know that Bulgaria is the single state he is returning to for a third time.
What is also certain is that Mr Moore is coming – even if for a brief stretch of time – to a country he might turn out to know far more than other diplomats who have worked here.
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