US - Bulgarian Task Force

The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. launched an important initiative for the South East European region. Its focus was on assisting Bulgaria in realizing its emerging role as a generator of security and stability in the Balkans. The initial phase of the project involved the creation of an U.S.-Bulgaria Task Force in Washington D.C. that helped the establishment of a long-term security agenda for both states. This initiative assisted in expanding and deepening American-Bulgarian relations through the formulation of concrete recommendations and specific bilateral projects. In the first place this was the decision of the Bulgarian National Assembly, the Parliament, to vote for opening air corridors for NATO aircraft during the Kosovo war. The Bulgarian public was quite sensitive regarding this issue (as were the public in all neighbor countries), the question provoked some nationalistic speculation, it was intensely used by the socialist opposition and its coalition partners, etc. This was a moment when a massive public education campaign was needed to both enlighten the public at large and to show support for the government on the part of the policy analysts’ community. In great part, the CLS concentrated on this task and planned its activities toward producing such an effect. This could be considered one of the most successful public interventions undertaken by CLS.
The program’s principal goals were:
  • promoting the development of US-Bulgarian relations in the political, security, and economic areas by bringing together American and Bulgarian policy makers and experts;
  • participating in the formulation of agenda for US-Bulgarian relations through analysis and consultation with the foreign policy community;
  • assisting Bulgaria’s government in strengthening its position as it seeks to become a NATO member
  • active participation in the public debate as a most effective way to further enhance the broad public’s understanding of the essentials of Bulgaria’s relations with NATO and the US
  • encouraging the presence of US investments in Bulgaria by providing valuable local knowledge and country specific analysis of opportunities and threats such as bureaucracy, corruption, etc.
By using it’s already established regional think tank network, CLS succeeded to increase public support for American initiatives in the region and Ppromoted better understanding of the domestic and international policies pursued by the Bulgarian government among the US policy community.

Period: April 1999 - April 2000
Coordinators: Ivan Krastev
Financing Organisations: German Marshal Fund of the United States
Global Affairs