Secretary of State John Kerry was in Sofia Thursday, where he told Bulgaria’s leaders they need to step up the fight against corruption because it has allowed Russia to exert too much influence.
Kerry met with Bulgaria’s president, prime minister, and foreign minister, the Washington Post said.
He also talked about Bulgaria’s precarious energy supply. Currently the EU’s poorest country relies on Russia for 85 percent of its natural gas supply and all of its nuclear energy, the Washington Post said. Bulgaria is now a member of NATO.
The Washington Post story said,
Kerry said the United States is committed to Bulgaria being a “strong and sovereign nation,” and to do that it must fight corruption.
A senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Kerry that Bulgaria is an ally in need of help, due to graft, energy dependence on Russia and an anemic economy. Corruption has given Moscow a pathway to exercise undue influence in the nation on the Black Sea.
“If and as they deepen and broaden their commitment to rule of law, we also believe we can do more together on the economic side,” the State Department official said.
The official said corruption is not just a threat to democratic institutions, according to the Washington Post. “It is also a wormhole for foreign influence. It’s really essential that Bulgaria tackle it more energetically.”
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.