On the eve of National Holiday of Bulgaria, charge d'affaires of Bulgaria to Uzbekistan Ilko Slavchev talked about national holiday, recent achievements, results and perspectives of the Uzbek-Bulgarian cooperation.
Ilko Slavchev: The Bulgarian State appeared again on the world map 131 years ago. It was a small country which was severely isolated from the great European power but filled with enthusiasm, creativity and the feeling of new. Bulgarian people have got their freedom and the country itself at a high price defending and reconquering it by brilliant ways for many years. There is no nation in the world history which would enable its combat flag be captured by the enemy during the battle. This is one of many examples of performance of duty before family and homeland, conscious valor and inexhaustible source of national pride.
- Your Excellency, can you please share your view on importance of accession of Bulgaria to the European Union and how it is effecting to economic development of the country?
- Having passed glorious and arduous path of ups and downs of its historical development, Bulgaria once again returned to the united family of European nations and took its appropriate place. In 2005, Bulgaria has signed and ratified the Treaty of Accession to the European Union and from the 1st January 2006 is its full member, and two years earlier became a member of NATO. As is well known the European Union is based on values such as respect for human dignity, personal freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, respect for human rights, including minorities.
These original values are common to all EU countries, living in the united society dominated by pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality. Straight away it should be emphasized that our accession to the European Union and NATO membership has been made possible with the support of a large part of Bulgarian society. The time of our membership in the EU is noted by the economic growth and progress. Our country is becoming closer to real functioning market economy. Macro-economic stability, a substantial increase in foreign investment and steady growth of income, a significant reduction of unemployment - all these activities are typical for the development of Bulgaria in the last year and a half.
- What were the achievements of Bulgaria in recent years and how you formulate perspective priorities for further progress?
- Over the past year 2008 growth in gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded 7%, with an average 2.8% to other member countries. An export to EU countries rose by more than 11% and constitutes about 63% of total export of Bulgaria. In 2008, the amount of foreign investment in the country has reached 4 868 million Euros, which is 14.32% of GDP. The unemployment rate fell below 5%, while population incomes in the public sector grew by 19% and in the real sector by 24%.
The most promising sectors of the Bulgarian economy are tourism, energy, transport, Information Technology and Communication, and light industry.
In the period from 2007 to 2013 Bulgaria as a member of the EU will receive 6853 billion Euros from the structural and united funds of this organization of which about 4 billion will mean for agriculture. This amount is distributed in the 7 operational programs announced by the European Commission.
Three years after the accession of Bulgaria to the EU increasingly more Bulgarian citizens took advantage of the free movement of people and capital. A growing number of countries opened their labor markets, it allows our citizens to find work and take advantage of the social security system and health care in these countries. Bulgarian students have got free access to educational institutions in the EU countries, and diplomas and certificates of professional qualification are recognized by all European directives.
The priorities of Bulgaria for the integration in the next few years are: the introductio of the unified European currency, the Euro and joining the Schengen zone, respectively 2011-2012; full integration of the Bulgarian economy into the European Common Market and the implementation of the Lisbon strategy.
Since the adoption of Bulgaria in NATO and the European Union, our country has proved itself as a source of stability and security in the world, in the Balkans and at the Black Sea basin.
Pursuing an active foreign policy, our country is actively opposed to the heinous acts of extremism and international terrorism, and is an active member of the international coalition against terrorism.
The adoption of Bulgaria to the European Union has created opportunities for participation in the formulation and implementation of policy for the Union's foreign policy, good-neighborliness, energy, environment, strengthening the competitiveness of European economy, social welfare, increasing the efficiency of education.
- Your Excellency, can you please tell about main events, results and perspectives of Bulgarian-Uzbek bilateral relations.
- On 24 April 2009 marks 10 years of Bulgarian diplomatic presence in Uzbekistan, the largest country by the population and with a special role in the Central Asian region.
During this period 21 intergovernmental and 9 interdepartmental agreements were signed. Further improvement of the legal framework based on cooperation between our countries is gradually gaining strength that will enable us to more effectively use the opportunities offered by the full membership of Bulgaria in the European Union.
The most important event of the past year was the state visit of the President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov to the Republic of Uzbekistan at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Mr. Islam Karimov /5 - 8 November, 2008/. This visit has once again confirmed the upward development of relations between our two friendly countries and peoples. Established productive relationships acquired a new dimension of mutual trust and respect between President Islam Karimov and Georgi Parvanov, they give us reason to expect further development and extending cooperation between our two countries.
With equal force it applies to the further development of relations and contacts with the countries of Central Asia, especially against the background of cooperation in the energy sector. In this regard, I would like to say that we look forward to a response regarding the visit to the Summit of the Republic of Uzbekistan in late April of this year to participate in the Energy Summit, entitled "Natural Gas for Europe: security and partnership", in Sofia .
Another important event in bilateral relations has been the resumption of political consultations between Foreign Ministries of our countries, which were interrupted a few years ago. They were held on 8-th September 2008 in Tashkent on the level of Deputy Ministers. Resumption of political consultations was held in a spirit of openness, constructiveness and mutual understanding. A full review of bilateral relations in all fields was carried out. It was concluded unanimously that there are no controversial political issues in the framework of bilateral cooperation.
Straight away after the visit of the President to the Republic of Uzbekistan, with an active assistance of the Embassy of Bulgaria in Tashkent the invitation on behalf of Mr. Gino Ganev - the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria to Mrs. Sayora Rashidova - Commissioner for the rights of Oliy Majlis in the Republic of Uzbekistan was prepared and sent. Mrs. Rashidova accepted the invitation, which allowed to attend the International Conference on "Human Rights are not only through law, but justice as well", which was devoted to the 60-th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as to sign an agreement on cooperation between the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Uzbekistan. This is the first such kind of document, which offers important prospects for joint work between the Ombudsmen of the two countries and is of great importance for Uzbekistan.
We have every reason to expect more active communication between government agencies of both countries this year. We also expect a significant expansion of ties in the field of tourism. Sufficiently interesting developments are expecting us in the field of cultural exchange. In late November, in response to the increased interest of business circles of both countries, the Republic of Bulgaria will show in the city of Tashkent his achievements in the field of industry and commerce in the framework of the exhibition "Made in Bulgaria".
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