"No country in the world should be totally dependent for its energy supply on one other country," Mr. Kerry, who is making his first trip here as secretary of state, said in a joint news conference with Boiko Borisov, Bulgaria's prime minister. "The United States is prepared to help Bulgaria, which has made difficult decisions in order to try to protect its energy future," Mr. Kerry said. "We are committed to try to help attract investment and provide assistance."
In Sofia, however, the focus was on helping Bulgaria move out of Russia's economic shadow. Beyond Bulgaria's energy dependence, Russia's state-owned banks and politicians have helped the Kremlin exert influence on Bulgarian politics, including energy-related decisions. One major challenge is to develop an alternative to the South Stream pipeline project, which would have funneled gas to Bulgaria through a pipeline under the Black Sea but was canceled by Russia as tensions between the Kremlin and the West grew over the crisis in Ukraine.
"We're also talking to them about diversifying their nuclear energy options and other options," the official said, alluding to a possible project in which Westinghouse Electric Company would build a nuclear power plant.
But he cautioned that any effort to attract investment to Bulgaria and to protect it from Russian meddling would also depend on the country's ability to fight corruption.