BTA News

Bucharest Hosts BTA’s First Cross-Border Conference in “Europe in the Balkans” Project

In his opening remarks, Bulgarian Ambassador in Romania Radko Vlaykov said that Bulgaria and Romania are “the best example for the common European future”, Vlaykov also said: “In the past, Bulgaria and Romania did not have a very good opinion of each other, but thanks to their membership in the European Union that has changed. The two peoples now respect and communicate with each other much more. Politicians have started working more to improve ties between the two countries. As members of the EU and as neighbours, Bulgaria and Romania are working together, communicating and strengthening their ties.”

The diplomat underscored the importance of the BTA project “Europe in the Balkans: a Common Future”. “I had the honour of attending the opening conference of the project [in Sofia on December 20, 2023] and I am pleased that BTA is doing this. This project is smart because it is a response to all the anti-European propaganda and fake news,” he said.

Among the participants are Marcela Glodeanu, Head of Unit at the Managing Authority for Interreg V-A Romania-Bulgaria in the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development, Public Administration and European Funds, Simona Vătafu,  public manager at the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, Răsvan Zamfir, Head of Unit and Permanent Secretariat for the Strategy Board Unit, Bogdan Mușat, Deputy Director of the Joint Secretariat’s General Department, Ioan Augustin, Deputy Mayor of Alexandria, and Ana-Maria Mîrzac, Councilor in the Cooperation and Promotion Department of Giurgiu Municipality. The participants in the Ruse discussion are participating by video conference and among them are Angelina Boneva, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Hristo Genev, project management expert at Information Unit Ruse – INTERREG Romania – Bulgaria with the Regional Development Ministry, Emilia Petkova, senior expert for international cooperation at the Ruse City Hall, Ivelin Zanev, Executive Director of the Danube Waterway Maintenance and Study, Desislava Atanasova, Deputy Rector of the University of Ruse, Antoaneta Yabanozova, Director of the Regional Council of the Bulgarian Red Cross in Ruse, Desislava Pencheva and Magdalena Simeonova from the Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The project is aimed to help people get a better understanding of the role of cohesion policy, including in the Balkans; raise public awareness of projects funded by the EU through its cohesion policy; and promoting open dialogue about the results of the implementation of cohesion policy at the local level and civic engagement in related matters.

The project also includes discussions that BTA will hold until August 2024 in: Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Varna, Vidin, Vratsa, Dobrich, Kazanlak, Kardzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Ruse, Samokov, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Targovishte, Haskovo, Shumen, Yambol, Razgrad, Veliko Tarnovo, Silistra and Gabrovo, as well as cross-border conferences in Belgrade, Bosilegrad, Adrianople, Skopje and Thessaloniki.

Here is a takeaway from what the participants in the Bucharest discussion said:

Marcela Glodeanu, Head of Unit at the Managing Authority for Interreg V-A Romania-Bulgaria, presented the achievements under Interreg Romania-Bulgaria in the 2007-2013 and the 2014-2020 programming periods. Some 330 projects have been implemented in the border areas between Romania and Bulgaria since 2007. In the current programming period (2021-2027), the budget of Interreg VI-A Romania-Bulgaria exceeds EUR 207 million, which will go to projects related to: climate resilience, mobility, disaster risk management, improved environmental protection, biodiversity, pollution reduction, lifelong learning, promotion of integrated and inclusive social, economic, and ecological local development, culture, natural heritage, and sustainable tourism.

Simona Vătafu, public manager at the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, said her ministry is launching a media campaign to acquaint the public with the results from the EU projects in the border areas over the last years. Five short videos will be published on Facebook and other social networks where a young man whose father is from Ruse and whose mother’s family is from Giurgiu will present the cross-border projects.

Răsvan Zamfir, Head of Unit at the regional office in Calarasi, said that in the 2007-2013 programming period, 93% of the EU funds under Interreg Romania-Bulgaria were absorbed. The regional office for cross-border cooperation near the Romanian-Bulgarian border is an NGO established in 2005. It works as a secretariat for all cross-border programmes between the two countries. “We are a multicultural team of Bulgarians and Romanians. We have very good cooperation with the Bulgarian Embassy in Romania,” Zamfir said.

Bogdan Mușat, head of the Interreg Romania-Bulgaria Joint Secretariat in Calarasi, said that an amphibious bus will be transporting passengers across the Danube between Calarasi and Silistra. The 35 seater bus was purchased by the regional council of Calarasi from Hungary for some EUR 900,000 within a project under Interreg V-A Romania-Bulgaria.

Ioan Augustin, Deputy Mayor of Alexandria, presented an Interreg V-A project for better transport connectivity of Romania’s Alexandria and Bulgaria’s Cherven Bryag using the main TEN-T network.  The project, worth EUR 8.3 million, was implemented from March 2019 to August 2023. The modernized road infrastructure creates favourable conditions for development in the fields of economy, public services, environment, social services, and culture, he noted.

Ana-Maria Mîrzac, Councilor in the Cooperation and Promotion Department of Giurgiu Municipality, presented projects implemented through partnership between Ruse and Giurgiu in the last years. Two project applications were submitted under the Interreg VI-A Romania-Bulgaria programme by September 2023 with a budget of EUR 3.5 million each. In the course of 36 months, the first project will improve environmental protection, biodiversity protection and sustainable urban development in Giurgiu and Ruse by creating green urban spaces, improving ecosystem services and ensuring the public is better informed.  The second project, titled “Green Harmony”, is implemented by Vetovo Municipality with Giurgiu Municipality as a partner; it aims to modernize the two towns’ urban and suburban green areas to improve the residents’ quality of life.