By H.E. Mr. Nikola Ivanov Kolev, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The diplomatic relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have been established in 1909. The Second World War interrupted the diplomatic relations between the two countries, but after the war they were re-established.
The division of Europe by the Iron Curtain in which the Bulgarian nation and state had no sovereign rights of choice, influenced the bonds between the two countries, but the end of the Cold War and the Revolutions of 1989 gave Bulgaria the opportunity to come back to the family of the democratic European countries to which it culturally and geographically belongs.
Today Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and NATO and it shares with the Netherlands common democratic values and principles of the market economy.
We observe a stable development of the bilateral relations, both in political and in economic terms. There has been reached a high level of cooperation and coordination between the institutions of the two countries not only within the EU and NATO, but also in the other international organizations. We meet together the common challenges of security and sustainable development.
Bulgaria is a country located in southeastern Europe, in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula. It was established in the VIIth century by the Bulgarian people on a territory inhabited by Thracian and Slavic tribes. In 681 it was recognized by Byzantium as a sovereign state and despite the reversal of fortune and history, despite all the rises and national failures, it has been existing with its own script, religion and language for more than 13 centuries. Bulgaria is one of the few countries that has preserved its name since its establishment in 681 until now.
On a territory of 111 000 km2 with a population of 7 million people, God has blessed our country with a wonderful nature – sea beaches, mountains, forests, fertile fields, rivers and lakes, mineral springs, rich and unique flora and fauna.
Bulgaria is a successor of ancient cultures and civilizations and along with Greece and Italy it forms one of the richest countries in Europe with regard to the historical and archaeological monuments from the pre-Christian era and the Early Christianity. The world’s oldest gold treasure, artefacts, dating back to 5000 BC, has been found in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is a developed industrial and agricultural country. The sectors determining the economic structure are the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, machine-building, shipbuilding, car industry, the chemical, electrotechnical, electronic, pharmaceutic, textile, food and arms industries, transport, logistics and services. Furthermore, Bulgaria is a big producer and exporter of electric power generated by nuclear, heat, water, wind and solar installations. The agricultural sector produces wheat, corn, sunflower seeds, fruit, vegetables, grapes, oil-bearing crops, meat, milk, meat and dairy products.
Bulgaria produces more than 70% of the rose oil in the world – highly important fragrance substance used in brand perfumes. The nanotechnologies and IT sector, which provides one of the most high-speed internet connections in the world, are developing fast.
Bulgaria is proud of its achievements in the Space exploration, the inventor of the first electronic digital computer – the American of Bulgarian origin John Atanasoff, the world’s first pocket electronic calculator and electronic wrist watch constructed by Bulgarian engineers.
Moreover, Bulgarian people are proud of their ethnic and religious tolerance and the rescue of all their 49 000 fellow-citizens of Jewish origin from being deported to the death camps during the Second World War, as well as the salvation of other 15 000 Jews from other European countries who have received a transit visa to Palestine by the Bulgarian diplomatic representations in Europe and have been rescued from a certain death.
With its more than 50 universities and higher education institutions, its research institutes and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, its extensive network of professional and general secondary schools, the Bulgarian government provides a high level of education for its citizens.
The geographical location, infrastructure, developed banking sector, energy security, highly skilled workforce, low taxes and low operating costs make Bulgaria an attractive place for business. Dozens of Dutch or foreign companies registered in the Netherlands find their partners in Bulgaria or start their own business there. The Netherlands occupies a stable first position in the list of the foreign investors in Bulgaria. The volume of trade between the two countries is constantly increasing.
Being part of the 5 million tourists who annually visit Bulgaria, the number of Dutch nationals who consider Bulgaria to be one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Europe is growing. With its seaside, mountain and spa resorts, thousands of mineral springs, its excellent healing and rehabilitation centers, unique historical and natural attractions, museums, art galleries, amusement centers and festivals, culture, delicious food, wonderful wine – produced observing the experience gained over the millennia – traditional hospitality and tolerance, attractive prices and a high level of service, Bulgaria is an excellent place for recreation, treatment, sports and all kinds of tourism. The number of foreigners who buy land and houses in Bulgarian cities, resorts and rural areas and settle in the country is also increasing.
The daily direct flights from Amsterdam and Eindhoven to Sofia and some Bulgarian coastal cities, the bus lines as well as the convenient air connections to other European capitals offer a fast and pleasant journey.