WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) issued the following statement on the U.S.-Bulgaria relationship as the country begins the official campaigning period for parliamentary elections:
“The United States and Bulgaria have a robust and growing relationship that, like the NATO alliance as a whole, is strongest when it rests on shared democratic values. We would like to see this relationship continue to develop, particularly on shared security and energy goals, but persistent corruption, declining media freedom, politicization of the judiciary, and other threats to the rule of law pose serious challenges to the U.S.-Bulgaria bilateral relationship.
“Bulgaria scored lowest in the European Union on both Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index and the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. These rankings underscore the breadth of the challenges facing Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government and judiciary must work to uphold the rule of law for all, not just some, and the media must have the freedom to report the truth without facing harassment, violence, or punishment.
“For almost eight months, in a continuous series of protests, the people of Bulgaria have called for an end to corruption and respect for rule of law and democratic values. As the April parliamentary elections draw near, it is imperative that the government of Bulgaria protect these values. And in the spirit of our longstanding relationship, the United States should support these calls and assist Bulgaria in tackling corruption, restoring an independent media, and promoting the rule of law. The steps Bulgaria takes to address these issues will only serve to strengthen our relationship further.”