|The Center for the Study of Democracy, along with friends and members of the political elite and diplomatic corps, held a farewell gathering for the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ms Nancy McEldowney, on 21 July 2009 at CSD premises. Among the guests were the Prime Minister - designate Mr. Boiko Borissov, the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court Mr. Konstantin Penchev, the Minister of Interior - designate Mr. Tzvetan Tzvetanov, the Minister of Defense - designate Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, the Chairman of the Asset Forfeiture Commission Professor Stoyan Kushlev, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior Mr. Pavlin Dimitrov, members of parliament, the executive and the judiciary as well as senior U.S. Embassy staff.
Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, described the formula for success of reforms in transition as based on reformist politicians, active civil society and strong support from international partners. According to Dr. Shentov, this is the context in which the United States government support made a difference in this country. “Since 1989 successive US administrations and the Embassy in Sofia, most recently led by Ambassador McEldowney, had the vision and the will to engage directly the Bulgarian civil society organizations” said the CSD Chairman.
Mr. Borissov highlighted the significance of the current political momentum for Bulgaria. The strong election turnout in the last parliamentary elections showed that the Bulgarian people are taking an active stance in choosing their country’s development path. “The people went out and voted and could no longer be blamed for the situation in the country”. Mr. Borissov expressed hope that his cabinet will meet the high public expectations. He underlined the importance of reinvigorating US - Bulgarian relations through restoring the trust of US partners in Bulgarian government institutions.
Mr. Penchev acknowledged that after the recent parliamentary elections there is considerable political will for change in Bulgaria. In his view there is political momentum to bring about the necessary reforms while working closely with the U.S. legal and administrative bodies and institutions.
Ambassador McEldowney confirmed her continuing support for the country’s consolidation of democracy and emphasized the role of CSD as a catalyst for change in the much needed institutional reforms. She expressed her belief in a ‘rebirth’ of Bulgarian democracy and achievement of the Bulgarian people’s aspirations for progress and prosperity. Summing up her experience in Bulgaria, Ambassador McEldowney said: “It has been a year that was filled with fascinating work and tremendous amount of fun with valuable colleagues.”