The US ambassador gave a candid interview for NOVA's journalist Dessislava Banova-Plevnelieva

Good morning Your Excellency! Bulgaria will comply with the President Zelensky's requests, but after all we will not send weapons to Ukraine. What is your comment?

Bulgaria is a friend, a partner and an ally and a very strong and trusted partner in NATO. Whether or not Bulgaria decides to send military equipment is a decision between Bulgaria and Ukraine. It is Bulgaria’s sovereign decision. What I would like to do is focus on the positive: the fact that Bulgaria is hosting on its territory a NATO battle group, the fact that Bulgaria has welcomed over 100 000 refugees, the fact that Bulgaria has supported UN resolutions and sanctions, and that Bulgaria is standing up to the brutality that we see, the civilian destruction that we see, committed by Russia.

Russia stopped the gas deliveries to Bulgaria. How can the United States help in this crisis?

Gazprom unilaterally breached its contract with Bulgaria. Gazprom tried first to change the terms of its contract and then, when Bulgaria stood up for itself, Gazprom decided to unilaterally use energy as a weapon. This is exactly why for years we have been working together on diversification. As the United States, our administration, has said this past March, that we will supply an additional 15 billion cubic tons of LNG to Europe. And as you heard recently, when the Bulgarian Prime Minister and Energy Minister were in Washington D.C., together we worked to allow for two emergency shipments of LNG at prices that are excellent for Bulgaria. We will continue to work on medium-term and long-term solutions, because we are friends and partners.

In your opinion, what could be the workable solution that would lead to a breakthrough in the relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of Northern Macedonia?

Dialogue is the most important thing and I think the new governments on both sides have a good start in this dialogue. You know that we, as an administration, believe in the unity of Europe and in having these countries be a part of the European Union. You know as a Bulgarian - Bulgaria has been a member of the EU for 15 years, the benefits that come to Bulgaria - and having the countries in the region as a part of the EU allows for greater regional stability and regional prosperity. I would say dialogue is important and what is not helpful is if all sides have ultimatums or both sides have negative rhetoric and if politicians on both sides only see this as a conflict to help their own popularity. That won’t be helpful. It has to be true dialogue to try to find a resolution on the way forward. And that regional stability is important because if they are not members of the EU, it creates a vacuum. And when you have a vacuum, those who don’t want stability, will take advantage of that.

You have two very emotional moments in your career returning to Iraq, the first time you were sent as a coordinator to Mosul and the second for the filming of the “American Herro”-the documentary about you. Please tell us about these moments.

When I went back to Iraq as a U.S. diplomat, what I saw around me was high hopes for immediate change. And we see this in so many areas where the populations want change, and they want it quickly. Real change, lasting change, takes time and it is really important for us to have the patience to let this change take place. Those who don’t want change will try to stop it, will try to block it. But it is important for us to stay focused on that vision of a better life.

You speak 9 languages which is very impressive. I even know that you study Bulgarian. Is it difficult? What is the first word you learned in our language?

The very first word I learned was “семейство“, which I thought was perfect, because it describes Bulgaria and the importance of the family in Bulgaria and to me personally. Because family is very important to me. The word I use most frequently is „здравейте“ and I have found that I use that same word for youth and older. And I use it because it is formal, I use it as a sign of respect. Respect to you, respect to Bulgaria. I have fallen in love with your country and Bulgaria will always have very special place in my heart.

And finally - how would you explain to a child what a diplomat does?

Diplomacy is about building bridges. It is about connecting people, nations, governments, societies, and that’s what we do as diplomats. I think the fact that despite politics, despite geostrategic issues, we can connect as people and as nations, is so important, because that is what is going to build trust, build tolerance and bring peace into this world. And we as diplomats try to just be a small piece of that.