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Cablegate: Bulgaria: Pm Borissov Seeking White House

VZCZCXRO3445
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSF #0538/01 2671457
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 241457Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6347
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA IMMEDIATE 0039
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 000538

SIPDIS

DOE FOR JELKIND, TCUTLER, PYOSHIDA, KTHOMPSON, DEPT FOR
AMB. MORNINGSTAR, JNEISHWAT, S/ES-CR, S/ES-O AND EUR/CE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2019
TAGS: ENRG IAEA PREL PGOV BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIA: PM BORISSOV SEEKING WHITE HOUSE
ENGAGEMENT ON STRATEGIC ENERGY DECISIONS

REF: A. ADAMS-SMITH E-MAIL 9/24/09
B. SOFIA 507
C. SOFIA 499
D. SOFIA 0363 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: CDA John Ordway for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S) SUMMARY: A letter from Prime Minister Boyko Borissov
to President Obama dated September 24, 2009, was
hand-delivered to the Embassy the same day with an urgent
request to transmit it to the White House. In the letter,
the PM asks for advice on strategic decisions in the energy
sector to achieve his goals of rooting out corruption,
enhancing transparency and reducing reliance on Russia. The
Prime Minister asked for direct interaction with the U.S. to
assist in improving European energy security by diversifying
supplies and transit routes. Text of the letter is provided
in para 2 and ref A emails. End Summary.

TEXT OF PRIME MINISTER BORRISOV LETTER
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) BEGIN TEXT OF THE LETTER

Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Sofia, 24 September 2009


Mr. President,

When my party won the clear electorate mandate in the
parliamentary elections in July 2009, Bulgaria entered the
first economic downturn in a decade, compounded by urgent
need for reforms in key policy areas. With such a clear
victory came also high expectations and responsibility.
Since taking office in July 2009, my government has
implemented concrete actions in eradicating corruption and
organized crime that have significantly slowed down the
reform process in Bulgaria for the past several years and
have tarnished Bulgaria's reputation.

My country faces formidable challenges requiring strategic
decisions with long term implications for Europe. Nowhere
else are these challenges more complex and important than in
the energy sector. In order to ensure the economic and
social well-being of my people, Bulgaria must have a strategy
that targets safe, affordable, and reliable supplies of
energy. We need to maintain diversity of fuels from a
multiplicity of sources ) we must not depend on a single
supplier. The gas crisis of early 2009 affected the whole
Europe but Bulgaria suffered the most with a direct and
severe impact on its citizens and its economy. The crisis
further enforced the need for diversification and
alternatives.

Bulgaria's energy sector has been plagued with corruption,
inefficiency and lack of strategic planning. I am committed
to change the practice of "business as usual" in the
Bulgarian energy sector to provide my people with stable and
reliable sources of energy. My country being at the cross
roads of major transit routes, I want to ensure that Bulgaria
will play a role in the realization of alternative transit
infrastructure for diversified energy supplies for Europe.

My government is ready to implement strategic decisions to
create a transparent, diversified, and efficient energy
sector. As a first step, we are currently evaluating the
large-scale Russian-proposed projects in the gas and oil
transit and nuclear energy production, to which the previous
government had committed. These projects have strategic
implications for Europe, the Black-sea-Caspian Region, and
Eurasia.

I would very much like to meet with you and your
representatives in the near future to discuss details of
these important projects and reforms in the energy sector of
my country. I want to move forward immediately to implement

SOFIA 00000538 002 OF 002


a change -- a change that is good for Bulgaria, Europe and
the Black Sea -- Caspian Region. I sincerely believe that
our meetings will help my government achieve one of its top
priority objectives that will support diversified energy
sources in Europe.

/Signed/

Boyko Borissov

Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

END OF THE TEXT OF THE LETTER

COMMENT
-------

3. (S) Borissov wants visible engagement with us to
counter-balance tough Russian pressure. PM Putin told
Borissov that he expects answers from Bulgaria on
large-scale, Russian-backed projects in November. Although
they are dependent on Russia for the bulk of their energy
supply, Borissov and his young, pro-western, Russia-skeptic
team are searching for better options. We should seize this
opportunity to provide them strategic and technical advice
and show our engagement at the highest possible level. Our
aim should be to bolster the government's confidence to
continue Bulgaria's strong engagement in Nabucco, make a
decision on South Stream participation that is in Bulgaria's
long-term interests, and rethink the Belene Nuclear Project.
While we are moving forward with working-level engagement,
including briefings by American companies and U.S. think tank
experts, top Russian government officials are visiting Sofia
to follow up on Putin's personal engagement with Borissov.
With a November deadline for decision-making looming, we have
a narrow window of opportunity to help the government make
tough technical, economic and political decisions on issues
critical for our own policies on European energy security.
End comment.
ORDWAY

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