Building Bridges: The Danube Connection in Bulgarian-Romanian Relations

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History of the efforts of Bulgaria and Romania for transport interconnection over the river

Aneta Mihaylova

Institute of Balkan Studies with Center for Thracology – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

An earlier version of this article was presented at the joint Bulgarian-Romanian historical commission, whose secretary from the Bulgarian side is the author. The text was given exclusively to the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” and will become a part of a digital book on Bulgarian-Romanian political relations from 1878 until today. 

The idea of ​​building a bridge over the Danube, connecting Bulgaria and Romania has a long history and, although with varying intensity, it has been permanently present in the bilateral relations from the end of the 19th to the present day. If we are not to go so much back to the time of Constantine the Great, when the first bridge over the Danube connecting the people on both sides of the river, but focus on more modern times, the issue was raised during the time of Ottoman rule and after the Crimean War (1853-56) it became an integral part of the diplomacy and politics in the Balkans and a number of European countries. The construction of a bridge over the Danube was associated with the first plans for railway construction in the Ottoman Empire and the implementation of a land connection between Western and Central Europe to the Balkan Peninsula with access to the Aegean Sea. In 1881, only three years after the Liberation of Bulgaria, the first contacts were established between the Bulgarian principality and Romania, where the possibility of building a bridge over the Danube was discussed. Since then, this issue has become one of the constant topics in the relations between the two neighboring countries, but it has turned out to be very difficult to solve and it takes more than seven decades for this idea to be realized in practice. Another six decades were to pass before a second bridge was built over the Danube, connecting the Bulgarian and Romanian riverbanks. Negotiations for the construction of new bridges between the two countries continue to this day, and the prospects for success are not very clear.

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