After the war

”There were burns”, Alisa Rujević, Montenegro

The task of the next Romanian president will be to manage relations with Ukraine in the post-war period and, as before, Romanian communities on Ukrainian territory will be the subject of priority attention from Bucharest

Iulian Mareș, 28/11/2022

The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine caused a global grain crisis, with the blockade imposed by the Russian navy resulting in the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Mykolaiv, Chernomorsk, Pivdenniy and Ochakiv no longer being able to transport cargo by sea[1]. However, the exit of grain – wheat, sunflower, maize – from Ukraine was imperative for commercial, food security and humanitarian reasons, as many countries in the world are dependent on annual agricultural production in Ukraine.

The spectre of a food crisis was acute for traditional consumers of Ukrainian grain, countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Kenya[2], but at the same time the European market for derived products reacted immediately – for example, for the large quantities of sunflower oil demanded by the food and gastronomy industry in Italy, the raw material, Ukrainian sunflower seeds, was suddenly in short supply.

In the situation created by the Russian blackmail, three initiatives came to facilitate the unblocking of Ukrainian grain exports, both the remaining ones from 2021 – a production of 86 million tons, and those expected for 2022 – an estimated production of almost 56 million tons[3]. 

Continue reading

Iulian Mareș: The Balkans do not have a culture of cooperation, but they have a special energy of revival, which we must use

Montenegro (source: PIxabay, CC0)

Interview with the President of Balkan Development Support on Romania’s foreign policy in South-East Europe: Moldova, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Western Balkans, rhetoric and facts in Romania’s regional relations

Vladimir Mitev

Iulian Mareș is the city manager of Fierbinți-Târg and president of Balkan Development Support, an organisation that develops human relations between Romanians and Montenegrins. He sat down with Bridge of Friendship, offering a beyond-cliché perspective on international relations in Southern Europe.

Continue reading

Costin Lianu: Bulgaria and Romania must specialise intelligently in the Danube Strategy

The Bulgarian-Romanian section of the Danube (source: YouTube)

Interview with the Romanian economic and administrative manager about the importance of the Danube Strategy for Romania and Bulgaria, the obstacles in the Romanian-Bulgarian relations and the spheres in which both countries could specialize in a smart way

Vladimir Mitev

Costin Lianu is a Romanian economic and management expert. His research specialises in internationalisation, management, innovation and branding. He is an author of books in these fields and a practitioner in innovation and internationalisation ecosystems. He has held various positions in the Romanian government, academia and business. The Bridge of Friendship blog sought him out in connection with his article “Smart Specialization in the Danube Region, Building Trust through Communities of Practice, his views and experiences on the Danube area and Romanian-Bulgarian relations.

Continue reading

Dragoș Ioniță: Euro-Atlantic Romania means a Romania anchored in its region

In Romania, traditionally a Eurocentric country, has been growingly interested in the periphery (source: Pixabay, CC0)

Interview with the Romanian researcher in international relations and expert on the Western Balkans region at SNSPA about the considerations of Romanian foreign policy south of the Danube and its evolution after the outbreak of war in Ukraine

Vladimir Mitev

Dragoș Ioniță is a PhD student and research assistant in the Department of International Relations and European Integration of the National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA). His main field of interest is the process of Europeanization of the Western Balkans, as part of the EU accession process of the countries in the region. In recent years, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science (2015), with a thesis on the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU, and later completed his Master’s program in International Relations (specializing in Diplomacy and Negotiation), with a thesis on the Balkan Migration Route (2017). He has published several articles and analyses focusing on EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. As a member of the Department’s Centre for European Studies, he has been actively involved in co-organising several events and conferences on the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans and is currently part of several academic networks aiming to bring EU policies closer to the general public, having been commissioned to conduct research on EU enlargement policy as a means to Europeanise the Western Balkans region.

The decisions taken by Romanian state representatives and the support shown in the relationship with Ukraine and Moldova during the last six months suggest that Bucharest has the capacity and the interest to go beyond the discursive level and engage concretely in cooperation with the states in the region. Thus, with the support and cooperation of developed Western states, Romania is beginning to shape a regional profile as a guarantor of security – says Dragoș Ioniță.

Continue reading

Petya Ilieva: Art is the surest way for “soft power” in diplomacy

The bus stop on the Blvd. Tsarigradsko shose bus stop in the area of Kv. Yavorov, transformed within the Art4Diplomacy project, shows the Military Club in Bucharest (source.)

The Bulgarian visual artist talks to The Bridge of Friendship blog about her Art4Diplomacy project and the two Sofia public transport bus stations, which she transformed with images from Bucharest

Vladimir Mitev

In August and September 2022, two public transport stops in Sofia were “dressed up” with photos of buildings from Bucharest. Their refreshment is part of Art4Diplomacy, a Bulgarian cultural diplomacy project implemented by visual artist Petya Ilieva.

She holds a PhD from New Bulgarian University with the dissertation “Bulgarian Art and Folklore as International Bridges and Cultural Diplomacy”, and an MA in Painting and Aesthetics from the University of Veliko Tarnovo. Her exhibitions have been shown in a number of galleries in Bulgaria and abroad – for example at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in London, at the Bulgarian Embassies in Paris and Delhi, at various venues in New York, Washington, Chicago, Japan, Lebanon, Qatar, etc. Petya Ilieva is also a restorer of murals, as well as an author of scientific publications in the field of cultural heritage and art. She is the founder of an annual festival of cultures of nations called Art4Diplomacy and works with all foreign diplomatic missions in Bulgaria.

The interview was accomplished on 10 October 2022. 

Continue reading

Adrian Sandu: Romania’s automotive industry is in a perfect storm, but it is resilient

Автомобилната индустрия в Румъния започва да се развива бързо след придобиването на Dacia от Renault през 1999 г. (източник: Pixabay, CC0)

Interview with ACAROM’s Secretary General who takes an x-ray of the Romanian car industry programmes to encourage fleet renewal as well as the challenges of rising costs, the war in Ukraine, the need for technological leapfrogging and new types of mobility. He also talks about relations between the automotive and IT sectors in Romania, openness to collaboration with similar organisations in the EU, including Bulgaria, and working conditions in the Romanian automotive sector

Vladimir Mitev

Adrian Sandu is Secretary General of ACAROM. He has 20 years of experience in the automotive industry and for 14 of them he has worked at ACAROM.

The interview with him was realised on 30 September 2022.

Continue reading

Radio Bulgaria started speaking in Romanian

The Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova H.E. Anatol Cebuc, Ambassador of Romania H.E. Brăndusă Predescu, the translator Vanina Bozhikova, the Director General of BNR Milen Mitev and the editor-in-chief of Radio Bulgaria Krasimir Martinov (source.)

Topical issues, history, culture, traditions and tourism options in Bulgaria are already reaching audiences in Romania and Moldova

Radio Bulgaria, 20.10.2022

Vesela Krâsteva

88 years of history and a new beginning! With smiles, enthusiasm and promises of support, the Radio Bulgaria Romanian editorial team was officially presented. With its creation, the number of languages in which Bulgarian National Radio communicates with the world reaches 11.

“I am convinced that this is just the beginning – we will develop both in text and sound, and in the future, why not in video?” said the Director General of Bulgarian National Radio, Milen Mitev. I believe that this website will contribute to even better and closer relations between Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova. I believe that this is the mission of a public radio station – to support cultural links and collaboration and to provide us with verified, reliable and comprehensive information.”

The timing of the launch of the new Romanian-language website is extremely important – amid geopolitical events in Europe, the two countries are on the verge of acceptance into the Schengen Area. Also this year marks two significant anniversaries: 30 years since the signing of the Treaty of Cooperation, Good Neighbourliness and Friendship between Romania and Bulgaria and 15 years since the accession of the two countries to the EU. The two events were mentioned by H.E. Ms Brândușa Ioana Predescu, Ambassador of Romania to Bulgaria.

“It is with great joy that I mention that this is a modern and long-awaited instrument that will bring people from both sides of the Danube even closer together. And what I am most happy about is that from now on, your Romanian-speaking compatriots, especially the communities living south of the Danube in the Vidin area, will have the opportunity to read and listen to a high-quality radio product in their own language. Officially, I am committed with the modest possibilities of ambassador and embassy, that we will do everything possible to bring the two National Radio Institutions closer, not only for exchange of experience, but also for exchange of content, which will also help the wonderful Bulgarian community in my country to listen to interesting material for them, in Romanian.”

Continue reading

Social profile and attitudes of Bulgarian voters in Romania

The entrance to the Bulgarian embassy in Bucharest where the only voting section in Romania operated (source: Vladimir Mitev)

The Bulgarian voters in Romania are often middle class, of working age and want to see in Bulgaria the societal evolution that they see in Romania

Radio Vidin

On 2 October 2022, parliamentary elections were held in Bulgaria and abroad. In Romania, only one polling station operated – at the embassy in Bucharest. As NBR correspondent and editor of the Romanian section of Radio Bulgaria, Vladimir Mitev covered the election day in Bucharest and conducted a survey with some of the voters who agreed to briefly share their views on various public issues. 

The interview with Vladimir Mitev below was broadcast on Radio Vidin’s 7pm news programme and was conducted by Iordanka Gherasimova. The title, subtitle and introductory text are taken from the Friendship Bridge blog.

Continue reading