Ambassador Merten’s inauguration speech took place in Sofia Hotel Balkan, on the 27th of July 2023, Thursday. He had an opening speech, then followed by Q&A discussion, in which participants were representatives of Bulgarian civil society, the media and young people.
First, H.E. Merten spoke about his own experience in Bulgaria, and long history, culture, and the nature of the country. After that, he continued about the long-standing relations between the USA and Bulgaria and our shared 120 years of diplomatic history, where he delved about the decisive role of Januarius Macgahan and the scientist John Atanasoff. Then he elaborated about the current Bulgarian culture and the international achievements of the writers and scientist coming from the country. Apart from the historical analysis, our mutual relations continue to grow and intensify, in particular – trade amounting to more than 2 billion dollars, and cooperation in the academic, commercial, civil society and public spheres. At the middle of his speech, ambassador Merten mentioned the growing exports, potential partnerships with US companies and future connectivity in technology, while also acknowledging the success of the energy diversification of Bulgaria. Afterwards, he spoke about the security of the entire region, the US help for capable military, the 3 seas initiative and that democracy is under threat all around the globe. Lastly, he spoke about the people-to-people relations, and the fact that there are a quarter of a million Bulgarians in the USA and more than 90 000 Americans in Bulgaria each year, because we have shared values and visions for the future.
The questions from civil society and the youth were about the black sea security strategy and disinformation, youth movements, challenges to the Black Sea regional security and democracy. Media asked H.E. Kenneth Merten about the Bulgarian visa-regime and the rule of law.
Among the guests were the president Rosen Plevneliev, deputy chairpersons of the National assembly, ministers, ambassadors, members of the Bulgarian parliament, members of the European parliament, military personnel, and representatives of other non-governmental organizations.