Thu, 28 Sep 2023

James Rubin, special envoy and coordinator of the Center for Global Engagement at the US State Department, will visit Bulgaria this week, and according to the official announcement, his mission is "to strengthen support for initiatives to combat disinformation."

The US State Department reports that Rubin's tour begins at the GLOBSEC 2023 forum in Bratislava, where regional security coordination will be discussed in particular. After that, he will continue his journey in Europe to Sofia and Brussels.

The information about his meetings in Bulgaria and Belgium is just that:

"He will meet with local government and EU representatives, as well as civil society representatives, to strengthen support for initiatives to combat disinformation, alongside continued efforts by Russia and other players who spread disinformation to undermine democracy and national security, and how our nations can collectively counter threats in the information space."

The tour started last night and ends on June 3rd. The GLOBSEC 2023 Forum in Slovakia starts today and runs until May 31. This probably means that Rubin will be in Sofia on June 1.

Last month he was in Skopje for meetings with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovachevski and President Stevo Pendarovski, the topic being the fight against disinformation, manipulated information and other threats in the information space of the Western Balkans,BTA reports.

The Western Balkans are "poisoned" by disinformation coming from Russia and China, and Serbia is one of the main bases from which disinformation comes in the region, reported Radio Free Europe in North Macedonia.

"Obviously, a lot of the disinformation is coming from Serbia, and that's a big problem that needs to be addressed. We would like to see government bodies formed that can start researching and analyzing this problem to try to prevent it", Rubin said at a briefing in the American Corner at the Faculty of Economics in Skopje, quoted by BTA. According to him, in North Macedonia, lies and misinformation spread rapidly on the Internet, and even the relations between Skopje and Sofia and the debate on the constitutional changes necessary for North Macedonia to continue its integration path to the EU are not immune to this phenomenon, and that the political tensions between Skopje and Sofia could be a problem on the road to the EU. "I'm sure there are people in the region and in the Kremlin who don't want progress in the process that will allow North Macedonia to move forward to the EU. I'm sure they're sitting somewhere thinking what to do to make it a problem and all I can say is that the government here is going to work with us to create a broader public approach to dealing with misinformation, like institutions, laws, standards," said Rubin.

James Rubin has a 35-year career in diplomacy and experience as a political advisor, lecturer at Oxford, Columbia University and LSE, commentator and analyst for publications such as Politico and SKY News. He joined the State Department on December 15, 2022, from the post of political adviser to the OECD Secretary-General in Paris, and previously worked for the lobbying firm Ballard Partners in Washington.

His acquaintance with President Joe Biden dates back to 1989-1993, when he was a member of his Senate staff. In the administration of President Bill Clinton, he was Assistant Secretary of State and primary spokesperson for Madeleine Albright, both while she was Secretary of State and while she was the US Representative to the United Nations. In 1999, he was assigned to be the special negotiator for the dissolution of the Kosovo Liberation Army (the paramilitary self-defense group of the local Albanians).

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