20 years ago the country became an ally

The United States has congratulated seven Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, on the 20th anniversary of their accession to NATO. A statement by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: "Twenty years ago, as you became Allies, we were inspired by your journeys - from enduring bitter tyranny and occupation to earning your freedom through courage and perseverance. Today, we mark your steadfast commitment to defend every inch of NATO territory and to uphold our shared democratic values."

Mr Blinken's statement continued: "From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, across the Atlantic and the Adriatic, NATO is more united and capable than ever." 

"On this important anniversary, we are proud to stand side-by-side with you as Allies defending our vision of the future," the State Department chief added.