IRI Convened Mayors to Discuss Municipal Anticorruption Reforms 

Sofia, Bulgaria – IRI brought together the mayors and deputy mayors of 10 Bulgarian municipalities to discuss the adoption and implementation of anticorruption reform agendas developed by working groups of local government and non-government members. The discussion was held in a roundtable format with special guest US Ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa. 

“I am here with you today for two reasons. Firstly, to honor your work and commitment for more transparency, and secondly, to emphasize the importance of your efforts   Your work is so important because increasing transparency and preventing and taking action against corruption are the keys to more prosperity for the citizens,” noted Ambassador Mustafa at the opening of the meeting. 

The ten municipalities represented at the meeting have participated in the IRI program “Countering Municipal Corruption in Bulgaria” since the autumn of 2021. In the event participated  Zhivko Todorov, mayor of Stara Zagora; Dimitar Nikolov, mayor of Burgas; Hasan Azis, mayor of Kardzhali; Ilko Stoyanov, mayor of Blagoevgrad; Pencho Milkov, mayor of Ruse; Stanislav Vladimirov, mayor of Pernik; Miroslav Grancharov, deputy mayor of Razgrad; Venera Milova, Secretary of Sofia Municipality, Aleksandar Vladimirov, deputy mayor of Vratsa; Neyko Genchev, deputy mayor of Veliko Tarnovo.  

The mayors and deputy mayors agreed on the importance of both official adoption and implementation of the reform agendas designed within the IRI program. They noted the common challenges they face in respect to effective transparency and civic participation. The municipal leaders also expressed their readiness to implement the developed reforms. 

IRI Program Manager Sofiya Petkova emphasized that the municipal anticorruption reform agendas are the product of working groups in each of the municipalities. The agendas are based on the challenges identified through the IRI Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach assessment methodology that was applied in the ten municipalities. The working groups designed the agendas by selecting the vulnerabilities to address and tailoring reforms to local needs.  

“The design and adoption of reform agendas is vital, and we are grateful for the active roles of you and your teams in all program stages. Implementation of the adopted reforms, however, is even more important. IRI is committed to continue to provide support to each of your municipalities with reform implementation,” Petkova shared with the mayors.   

The reform agendas, drafted and adopted by unanimous consensus by municipal working groups, were submitted in December 2022 to the mayors for consideration for official adoption. Five municipalities have already adopted their reform agendas by decision of their municipal council – Stara Zagora, Burgas, Kardzali, Razgrad, and Sofia. The rest are expected to adopt their reform agendas in the next months. 

A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the International Republican Institute (IRI) advances freedom and democracy worldwide by helping political parties become more responsive, strengthening transparent and accountable governance, and working to increase the role of marginalized groups in the political process—including women and youth. More information is available at 

The IRI Bulgaria program implemented IRI’s Vulnerabilities to Corruption Assessment (VCA) in the ten municipalities to identify existing vulnerabilities. IRI also conducted municipal public opinion polls measuring perceptions of corruption and transparency. In July 2022, IRI organized a national anticorruption conference, whereby the mayors of the ten Bulgarian municipalities participating in the program signed an anticorruption pact. With this document, they committed to working for more effective transparency, openness, accessibility, citizen engagement, as well as for the effective use of mechanisms and structures to prevent and combat corruption at the municipal level. Under the program, IRI convened municipal working groups of government and non-government representatives, who in the autumn of 2022, drafted reform agendas that have been presented for formal adoption to municipal mayors and councils. 

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