Zinaida Zlatanova, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Bulgaria, in an interview for Radio Focus.
Focus: Today should be a very dynamic day for the city of Burgas, as a Regional Information Centre will be opened officially. Ms Zlatanova, what will be the purpose of this information centre? What services will it provide? How will it be beneficial for the people in Burgas?
Zinaida Zlatanova: The municipal centre, which will be opened today, is a part of a network with 28 municipal information centres, which are constructed by the Bulgarian government with financing from the European Regional Development Fund. The aim of these centres is to provide useful information, to people from all Bulgarian regions, about the opportunities for receiving EU financing; about the purpose of the cohesion policy; and about the results from the projects that have already been realised. Basically, the information centres provide information and explain the benefits from the cohesion and structural funds of the EU.
Focus: You said that this network will have 28 suchlike centres around Bulgaria. I suppose that the one you are opening today in Burgas is the first one, or am I wrong?
Zinaida Zlatanova: As an official opening, yes, it is the first one, which is officially opened, at least as far as I am aware, but again, these centres are constructed by the Bulgarian government with funds from the EU. All 28 centres are about to be opened. I would like to tell you that at least half of them have, in practice, started working already, so people can visit them and receive information.
Focus: In this line of thoughts, what is your impression – is there any interest towards the information these centres provide?
Zinaida Zlatanova: There is always interest towards information, which is provided by such types of centres. Moreover, they are connected to the network of all other information networks dealing with European affairs, like the Europe Direct centres, which are also financed by the European Commission. This information is always useful and it will never be too much for the people. This is the latest network of information centres concerning European affairs, which is being opened in Bulgaria. I hope that the provided information will be even more detailed, better, and more useful to people from all over Bulgaria.
Focus: I suppose that these centres are mainly visited by younger people?
Zinaida Zlatanova: Young people as well, yes.
Focus: There is also a direct connection between the opening of the centre with the debate, which starts in Burgas today on the topic “Realisation of the youth – Bulgaria or Europe”. In fact, could this even be a debate topic, as is the answer not one-sided for young people that Europe has and always will be a better place for realisation than Bulgaria?
Zinaida Zlatanova: The topic of the debate is quite ambiguous. The debate topic is made by our colleages, as far as I am concerned, in this way in order to attract more participants and to be more intriguing. Of course, Bulgaria is and always will be a part of Europe. And naturally, Bulgaria is a part of a very vast internal market of goods and service, a market for 500 million citizens from all 27 EU members, where there are no barriers. This is the idea behind the organisation of this debate, and of the three information days that we will hold as a part of the Youth on the Move programme.
Focus: You mentioned the forthcoming opening of the Youth on the Move exhibition. What will it offer to people?
Zinaida Zlatanova: Let me say first that this is a very vast pan-European campaign. And actually, Burgas is one of the places in Bulgaria where this campaign is not going well. That is why we selected Burgas for this exhibition, and it was not an accident that the campaign would be held while the Spirit of Burgas music festival takes place. Our idea is to be where the young people are, to be among them, in order to be able to communicate with them and discuss their opportunities in Europe. And to also discuss what the European Commission, and the EU in general, does for them. We will have information stands for different programmes, which the European Commission offers to youths, like the Erasmus programme for instance. You know that this programme deals with student exchange programmes between different European universities. There will also be presentations made by Bulgarian institutions, like the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science. There will also be a presentation of the programme Youth on the Move, which is also financed by the European Commission. We will also explain the opportunities for schoolchildren to participate in programmes in the sphere of youth mobility education, like the Comenius programme. We will also present the programme for opportunities for professional internships in Europe. This programme was recently introduced by the European Commission aiming at tackling youth unemployment. There will also be many other information events. All youths from Burgas and guests of Burgas are welcome to join us in these programmes. I would also like to say that the famous musician Kalin Veliov is an ambassador of the Youth on the Move programme. He will also be among the young people promoting and explaining the opportunities of this programme.
Focus: All this information will be available to people within walking distance of the Spirit of Burgas music festival. As you said, it was not a coincidence that these events would happen together, as youths are tempted by the chance to receive useful information in a pleasant way, as far as I know.
Zinaida Zlatanova: Yes, indeed. Our aim is to speak in their language and to understand what they are really interested in, and to respond to their present needs.
Focus: Let us say that the exhibition will run from today until August 5. Is there any change in these dates?
Zinaida Zlatanova: You are right – the exhibition will run from this afternoon to August 5.