Remarks by Assistant Secretary Donfried to
AmCham Business Breakfast with PM Petkov
Thursday, May 19, 2022
It’s wonderful to be here!
Mr Olivier Marquette,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is truly an honor to be with all of you this morning.
And I am delighted to share the stage with the Prime Minister. As mentioned, he was in DC last week, so we were joking that maybe we should make it a weekly event. Where will we meet next week?
The presence, too, of so many senior Bulgarian government officials clearly shows the importance of bilateral trade and economic relations between our two countries. And our common desire to deepen this relationship even further.
I understand that the Prime Minister last addressed AmCham members in 2019 as a private citizen. Apparently he then gave an inspirational presentation on starting a successful business as an entrepreneur in the United States and how he partnered with top universities in the United States and Bulgaria to develop a patented yogurt product named after Bulgaria. I was very interested to learn that if you use this product you can live over a hundred years. You just need to eat it every day. And I’m trying to decide if I want to live past a hundred years.
But I believe the Prime Minister’s story is a great example of combining American and Bulgarian know-how to create a successful business that creates jobs in both countries. It’s a concrete example, but it’s also a metaphor for what we are all fighting together.
I would also like to warmly thank our host this morning, AmCham President Marquette and AmCham CEO Ivanov. Ambassador Mustafa tells me that you have been incredible partners and I know you couldn’t have a more incredible partner on our side than Ambassador Mustafa.
So it’s been a great alliance and we’re grateful for that. Your vision and leadership combined with that of the AmCham Board of Directors has truly been exemplary. Today, I wanted to briefly give you an overview of President Biden’s vision for a reinvigorated and revitalized transatlantic foreign policy.
As President Biden and Secretary Blinken have pointed out, the strength of American alliances is one of our country’s greatest assets. We are most effective when we coordinate closely with you, our allies. This is true whether we face COVID-19, economic and social inequality, climate change, corruption, energy security threats, an increasingly assertive China, cyber threats, technological competition or , more recently, to the resurgence of Russian aggression.
For all this, my team and I are focused on four objectives:
First, we must continue to reinvigorate our European alliances and partnerships. The power of transatlantic cooperation is a force for good. And we are stronger when we work together. Our engagement with the European Union, NATO, the OECD and other partners is essential to our success and prosperity.
And we are committed to a Europe whole, free and at peace. Our goal is to see countries across the region move forward on their Euro-Atlantic path and contribute more to unity. Ukraine, as we have seen, has demonstrated the power of our unity. By supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against this new unprovoked Russian invasion.
Second, we must coordinate with our European partners to strengthen democracy and the rule of law throughout Europe and Eurasia. We must reject anti-democratic tendencies and show that democracies can serve their people. Together, we can – and must – fight the authoritarianism, corruption and misinformation that contribute to democratic backsliding.
Third, in order to better rebuild and develop the transatlantic economy, we must promote deeper trade relations, foreign direct investment and energy cooperation. There are countless opportunities to expand and diversify our partnerships. Let’s get to those opportunities. Above all, let’s make sure that in the future none of us, none of our partners and allies will suffer the kind of energetic blackmail that we have experienced this year.
Fourth, it is imperative that we tackle the range of global challenges of the 21st century that threaten stability and prosperity at home and around the world. These include regional conflicts, terrorism, including extremism, and radically, racially and ethnically motivated violence, which are escalating in the United States as well as in Europe. This too must be done in coordination with our partners. We cannot do it alone. We are all living in exceptional times and facing significant challenges on many fronts. But we also have tremendous opportunities to strengthen our relationships, strengthen our partnerships with like-minded nations, and protect our shared values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human dignity and human rights. ‘male.
The main current challenge is the new invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And, Petar, you spoke so movingly of the heartbreak of this war. It has been almost three months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what is a truly brutal war. His actions have directly resulted in millions of displaced people, a global energy crisis and a looming food security tragedy beyond the immediate tragedy of what is happening every day in Ukraine. We believe that allies like Bulgaria who have provided vital aid to Ukraine are essential to this coalition and we thank you for the unity. We have seen Bulgaria generously hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees and providing a range of technical and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Through NATO, we have cooperated closely to set up a new battle group here in Bulgaria to ensure the security of Bulgaria at this time as well. During the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington last week, Vice President Harris expressed her gratitude for the strong friendship between our two countries. She thanked the prime minister for Bulgaria’s support for Ukraine and affirmed American solidarity in the face of Russia’s latest attempt to weaponize energy.
The Prime Minister announced that Bulgaria had secured two shipments of liquefied natural gas from the United States. While Russia is slamming the door on Bulgaria, the United States is reaching out. This is the definition of friendship.
I also want to commend AmCham for partnering, as Olivier mentioned, with the Embassy and NGOs to help displaced Ukrainians by providing job opportunities, housing, legal services and much more. . This United with Ukraine campaign is not only an innovative and timely way to support the Ukrainian people. It is also a great example of corporate social responsibility. So thank you to all of you who have joined this important initiative.
In conclusion, I would like to thank AmCham members for their tireless work in supporting strong partnerships between Bulgarian and American businesses and helping to transform Bulgaria into a gateway to all of Europe.
I think there’s so much more we can do together, and I can’t wait to see all of us in this room do it.
Thanks for the invitation!
It’s wonderful to be with you!