An ominous coincidence of sirens?

Marcie Ries US Ambassador to Bulgaria

Which way now for Bulgaria?

1st. October, at 1300 precisely, municipal sirens sounded across Bulgaria, in a routine test of the system according to the Order for Early Warnings and Announcements of Disasters. Judging by what we heard in Bankya, they’ve got some further technical improvements to be made.

On the same day, the new US Ambassador, Marcie Ries, presented her credentials to the Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev.

Political heavyweight

Ries succeeds James Warlick[1], a man who seems to have annoyed, angered and alienated many across the Bulgarian political spectrum during his (curtailed) tour of duty.

An article published back in April, 2011, in Commentary[2], is worth reading again.

“[Bulgaria’s] treatment at the hands of U.S. Ambassador James Warlick has fallen somewhere between condescending neglect and active alienation.”

What will be the approach and policies of the new incumbent? We may discover more at today’s opening press conference. But, judging by her career record, Ries is going to be a formidable force.

Over a period of more than 30 years, she has worked in several ‘hot’ places: Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey. She’s been involved in START, the strategic arms reduction talks with the Russian Federation.

Before being appointed to Bulgaria, she worked in the US Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance as deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and strategic policy. At other times, she’s carried out the role of “counselor for political-military affairs”.

Which way now?

With Bulgaria wishing to become a key player in the Balkans, it will be interesting to watch the way in which this opportunity for a new US-Bulgaria partnership will develop.

Ries’ career is comprehensively presented on the US AllGov[3] site, which describes itself as “the place to find out everything about what the United States government really does.” It’s well worth reading, as is the site’s Bulgaria country information[4] which (despite being a little outdated, and sloppily edited) contains some interesting nuggets of ‘information’, and manages to present the entire history of Bulgaria in 8 lines!

Anyway, back to the juxtaposition of the public siren exercise and the official presentation of the new ambassador: let’s all hope it was no more than a coincidence, and not a real ‘Early Warning and Announcement of Disaster’.

[1]: James Warlick

[2]: Commentary Magazine

[3]: AllGov.com Ries career profile

[4] AllGov.com Bulgaria ‘information’

Image source: US Embassy Bulgaria

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