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Bulgarian Ambassador sees "Dramatic Headway" in political relations with Serbia

01. January 2011. | 08:57

Source: BTA

Bulgarian Ambassador in Belgrade Georgi Dimitrov believes that the last five years have been a period of dynamic change in Serbia.

Bulgarian Ambassador in Belgrade Georgi Dimitrov believes that the last five years have been a period of dynamic change in Serbia.

"At the political level over this past time, our bilateral relations have made dramatic headway as a series of meetings have been held between our presidents, prime ministers and parliament leaders and at the ministerial level," the diplomat said, interviewed by BTA.

"It is important that a far higher degree of communication has also been reached between the two peoples, as well as at the level of business and cultural contacts, in science, education, sports and tourism. Because we must admit that for reasons inherited from the past and known to all, Bulgarians and Serbians used to know little about each other, although they are neighbours. But there is a desire to know each other better.
This is evidenced by the interaction between the localauthorities, the two chambers of commerce, in the field of culture and in various other domains. Therefore, the overall balance is positive and the movement is upward," the Ambassador said.

He sees "serious steps forward" in bilateral military and police cooperation, including in terms of agreements and practical interaction.

But he is clearly more critical of the two countries' economic cooperation, where "despite the upsurge, we are still unable to surpass what is only a modest level of commodity exchange between two neighbours." According to Dimitrov, two-way investment is insufficient, with Bulgaria tangibly outstripping Serbia.

Among the areas in which a lot is left to be desired, the diplomat listed infrastructure (where, according to him, large joint projects are going ahead at not a very fast pace), border crossings, the railway network, the nonexistent air service, and bus transport.

The main problem of the Bulgarian community in Serbia is socioeconomic, according to the Ambassador. "The Bulgarian minority lives in one of Serbia's least developed regions, which is something that the Serbian side also admits," he said.

He pointed to the need to develop Bulgaria's economic contacts with
these areas, boost investments there, revive their economy and encourage them to take part in Bulgaria's economic life.

"All this, of course, requires political efforts as well," Dimitrov said. He noted that problems still exist, which he does not hide from the Serbian authorities and which attract justified criticism and claims. These problems concern the study and official use of Bulgarian, religious practice and other forms of expression of Bulgarian national identity in Serbia.


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03. January - 09. January 2011.