On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, Ambassador Eric Rubin and Minister of Culture Boil Banov signed an agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria to protect Bulgaria’s cultural heritage. The agreement, which provides for import restrictions on certain categories of cultural property from Bulgaria, enables both countries to collaborate to reduce the looting and trafficking of these antiquities. The agreement builds on the United States’ ongoing commitment to cultural preservation and respect for the heritage of other countries.
The agreement, formally called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archaeological and Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material Representing the Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Bulgaria, also encourages the increased exchange of Bulgarian antiquities for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes.
This agreement renews a similar MOU between Bulgaria and the United States that was signed in 2014, but expired in January. Since the original MOU was signed five years ago, both countries have worked together on protecting Bulgaria’s rich cultural heritage, including through professional exchanges, trainings, law enforcement cooperation and restoration projects. Since 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia has spent more than $1.1 million dollars (1.8 million leva) on preserving and protecting some of Bulgaria’s most historic and endangered cultural sites.