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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel: Creating Bulgaria's first foreign policy strategy is a challenge and an opportunity

04 December 2023 News

The drafting of the document should bring together the views of diplomats, experts, academics, NGOs and young people in as broad a debate as possible

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel opened and hosted the conference ‘The Foreign Policy Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria — Challenges and Opportunities’, which took place on 4 December at the House of Europe.

The initiative for the adoption of such a strategic document lies with Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel. Its aim is to increase transparency, predictability and public support for Bulgarian foreign policy and to form an inter-institutional consensus on clearly formulated foreign policy priorities.

The event was attended by the President of the National Assembly Rosen Zhelyazkov, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Information and Communication Technologies Prof. Velizar Shalamanov, Prof. Ingrid Shikova, Department of European Studies, Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’, political scientist Prof. Antony Todorov, academics, experts and journalists.  Moderators of the discussions were the leading journalists Boyko Vassilev, Svetoslav Ivanov and Georgi Toshev.

‘I welcome you to the conference dedicated to the ‘Foreign Policy Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria — Challenges and Opportunities’. The topic was chosen by me and my team at the Foreign Ministry because we believe that together we can make Bulgaria a factor for stability and security in Southeast Europe, a factor for growth, a regional innovation leader. Thank you for being here today to launch together this important debate on the preparation of Bulgaria's first foreign policy strategy. This is a challenge and an opportunity. It is important to hear your opinion and ideas’, Mariya Gabriel said at the beginning.

She commented on why such a strategy is needed.  ‘We have a radically changed international environment. We face growing fragmentation, overlapping crises, different security architectures, questionable multilateralism, hybrid actions and cyber attacks. In the meantime, important processes are taking place in the European Union and NATO. Together, we all need to promote the unity of the Euro-Atlantic community’, Gabriel pointed out.

The deputy prime minister said that it was planned to develop a public document, relatively short in length but focused with clear messages and time scope. It will aim to outline the principles, goals and objectives of Bulgarian foreign policy in the short and medium term. This document will be in line with the strategic documents adopted within the EU and NATO.

‘Today, foreign policy faces complex tasks. Moreover, we need not only to outline the challenges, problems and crises. We need to create solutions together. Solutions to strengthen stability, security and cooperation in Europe and globally. Dialogue and diplomacy are the most reliable means of achieving consensus between state institutions and society on long-term foreign policy priorities. At the same time, they are the bridge to more predictable international planning and negotiations for a secure, innovative and stable world’, Mariya Gabriel underlined.

Within the individual panels of the forum the important elements that the strategy should contain were discussed, such as the Green Transition, energy, economic and digital diplomacy, the fight against disinformation, strategic communication and public diplomacy, brand ‘Bulgaria’, cultural diplomacy, working with Bulgarians abroad.

Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel announced that the next discussion on the topic will be with young people to hear how they see the development of their own country. There will also be a discussion with experts from international and European institutions.

‘Bulgarian diplomacy has a high goal — to turn challenges into opportunities’, Mariya Gabriel underlined.

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