Bronislav Denev, head of the Commercial and Economic Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Bucharest, Romania, in an interview for Focus News Agency.
Focus: Mr Denev, will the CVM reports, published by the European Commission last week, about Bulgaria’s and Romania’s progress in the sphere of Justice and Home Affairs have any effect on the trade relations between Bulgaria and Romania?
Bronislav Denev: This is a question that cannot be on the agenda, as we are two countries, which joined the EU together. We are working on re-establishing our political, economic, cultural, social, and friendly relations. As a head of the Commercial and Economic Section (CES) over the last three years, I have witnessed a change for the better in the relations between the two countries, which benefits both Bulgaria and Romania. The trade between Bulgaria and Romania surged up to EUR 3.545 billion last year, as 1,739 Bulgarian companies exported goods and services to Romania, with around 1,500 Romanian companies exporting to Bulgaria. This data shows that our economies are opening to each other more and more. We must continue the positive approach and positive support, as it benefits everyone.
Focus: What is the reaction in Romania to the terrorist attack in Burgas, and could that lead to a possible retreat of Romanian tourists?
Bronislav Denev: You can never be sure where, when and how something similar can happen. I extend my condolences to the families of the victims. I conferred with the President of the Romanian National Association of Travel Agents, Ms Corina Martin, Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, travel agencies and there is no outflow of Romanian tourists, at least for now. It is another issue that sometimes we should consider the statistical data better and think how correctly the statistics are given, because they cannot be fabricated. I can give you an example – in the past five years Romanian tourists in Bulgaria are nearly 1 million and I think that in the past two years they are even more. It is up to you to decide how accurate and correct the information is, because a new piece of information was released this year in April by Romanian travel agencies – which showed that about 1.5 million Romanians had a holiday in Bulgaria last year and about 336,000 made transit trips via Bulgaria. Perhaps we should seek the truth somewhere between the two figures, but Romanians are really content with our resorts.
Focus: What lies ahead in the trade and economic relations between Bulgaria and Romania for this year?
Bronislav Denev: A lot of meetings are scheduled. We established a system for direct contract with companies. We work both with public and private companies. I think that we have built a positive authority, which supports the progress of the bilateral relations. We want to restore the trust in the institutions – the Embassy, CES, and Consulate, as over the years their authority has been undermined a bit. It is a fact that currently things are going in the right direction. We also discuss investments, but a head of the CES, or a member of the team, cannot be the only unit trying to bring investments. Investments are achieved through teamwork. We need to work as a team and be as flexible as possible about everything we can do, as in the 21st century no one can wait for a slow reply. The response time is vital for whether investments will be realised. I hope that the new ideas of the Bulgarian Ministry Economy, Energy and Tourism will make this process work better. With regards to tourism – we will make an independent presentation of the Bulgarian tourism towards the end of September. I would like to thank Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Delyan Dobrev, his deputy in the sphere of tourism – Ivo Marinov, hotelier Mr Stefan Sharlopov, Blagoy Ragin – Director of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, and the many other hoteliers, who agreed to participate in such a presentation. We would like to make something out of the box, something that will exhibit more cultural tourism, something that should underline the cultural tourism available in the Bulgarian towns and cities, which are candidates for becoming a European Capital of Culture in 2019. We will show a different face of Bulgaria to Romanians. We will also have the opportunity, with the help of the Romanian tourist agencies, to see Romania from a different perspective, which could increase the number of Bulgarian tourists to Romania, as well. This is a mutual process. Three months ago, we made a Balkan meeting in Bucharest, where the heads of the hotel and restaurant businesses of Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria took part. This was the first meeting of its kind, and it was the start of something very interesting, which we would like to continue in the future.