Building Bridges: The Danube Connection in Bulgarian-Romanian Relations

(source: Pixabay, CC0)

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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Romania develops infrastructure links to the border with Bulgaria

The railway Bucharest-Giurgiu North will be modernised (source: Pixabay, CC0)

Florin Cîţu’s government cuts social benefits but invests in infrastructure

Vladimir Mitev

By the end of the year, a new road from the Danube Bridge border crossing to the Giurgiu-Bucharest road will be completed. This was announced by Romanian Transport Minister Catalin Drula. “One project that makes me proud is the connection with the DN5 road from the entrance from Bulgaria at the customs in Giurgiu. This will be a 6 km long expressway that will bypass Giurgiu. There will be four lanes of concrete. The previous concrete road gave defects in the 90s, but now the technology is new. There is an Austrian company that has built concrete runways in Romania. This way we will get rid of the shameful situation the moment we leave the customs. It was like Mars”, the transport minister announced on Digi FM’s “Comfortable Man” show.

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Bulgaria and Romania in the Eastern bloc: how disputes among allies are resolved

The Romanian socialist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu and his Bulgarian colleague Todor Zhivkov (photo: Romanian national archives, Online phototeque of Romanian communism, ID 35070x4x6, 17.01.2019, 12/1979)

A look at the different foreign policy positioning of Romania and Bulgaria in the second half of the XX century

Iskra Baeva

This article was presented at the conference ”Bulgaria and the Balkans in the XX century: foreign policy and public diplomacy”, which took place on 26 October 2018 at the Sofia City Arty Gallery.

The Balkans are in the middle between the three continents, where civilisations, which form the outlook of contemporary world, were born. The importance of this region, just like any other region’s importance, changes together with Europe’s evolution, but all the time it retains its role of connecting element between Europe and Asia and its importance for the Great powers in the continent. By this more general affirmation I want to point your attention towards two of the Balkan states, which we could call Northern Balkans, in the way we call another part of the peninsula Western Balkans. These are Bulgaria and Romania, which enter after World War Two in the Soviet sphere of influence, having very different positions. Soon after the first international convulsions they became the only Balkan countries in the Eastern Bloc. However this didn’t draw them much closer. Neither equalises them. The relations between Bulgaria and Romania in the Eastern block are filled with tensions and contradictions, even though these are hidden behind numerous meetings at the highest level.

I will present those relations through a few characteristic examples. 

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