“Welcome to US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan whom I am receiving just a month after my meeting with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva said at a joint press conference with John Sullivan in Sofia.

“The two allied countries are developing relations of strategic partnership and share common democratic values,” the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister said.

In his response, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan added that relations between Bulgaria and the United Sates are stronger than ever and are getting even stronger. The United States attaches great importance to Bulgaria’s security as a NATO ally, the US diplomat said. He recalled that Bulgaria will mark the 15th anniversary of its membership in NATO in 2019. Bulgaria is a strong ally and a very important partner and friend in the region, he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister revealed to the media that one of the main topics of the conversation between the two and their delegations was the opportunities to improve trade between the two countries. “In the course of the conversation John Sullivan recalled more than once that he had served as deputy secretary of commerce. We agreed that despite the current volume of our trade, further potential exists for developing our relations,” she said. Minister Zaharieva also raised with her guest the issue of the need for a social treaty between the two countries. “This is very important for our compatriots in the United States,” Ekaterina Zaharieva noted.

The waiver of US visas for Bulgarians was also among the topics of the conversation. “I would like to thank the United States for the good cooperation in this area and to express our hope that Bulgaria would soon get the same treatment as the other European countries and the visas will be waived for our citizens in the near future,” she said.

During the talks, Minister Zaharieva also raised the issue of receiving US support for Bulgaria’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “I believe that a stable democracy should be built on a stable economy and that is why membership in the OECD is a priority for us. What is more, Bulgarian businesses are ready and are already taking part in many bodies and instruments of this organization, while the government has developed a program,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Responding to journalists’ questions, the two emphasized the strategic importance of Bulgaria diversifying its energy routes and sources. “Bulgaria’s amended energy strategy on the strength of which we decided to participate with 20% of the liquified natural gas terminal in Alexandroupolis is a further guarantee of this,” Minister Zaharieva said.