About Us India - Bulgaria Bilateral Relation

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Relations between India and Bulgaria are longstanding, warm and friendly. The two countries, which happen to be ancient civilizations, are proud of their glorious cultural heritage. People to people contacts and cultural links between the two countries pre-date the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1954 and there are traces of contacts between the peoples of the two countries as early as the 8th Century AD.

Bilateral high-level visits include that by Vice-President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (1954), PM Indira Gandhi (1967), President V.V. Giri (1976), President Sanjiva Reddy (1980), PM Indira Gandhi (1981), Vice President R. Venkataraman (1985), President S. D. Sharma (1994), Vice President Krishan Kant (2000) and President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (2003). From the Bulgarian side, their Presidents - Mr. Todor Zhivkov (1976 & 1983) and Mr. Petar Stoyanov in 1998, and Prime Ministers – Mr. Stanko Todorov (1974, & 1980) and Mr. Sergei Stanishev in 2007.

Despite political changes witnessed by the two countries in the last six decades, India and Bulgaria, as two independent nation-States have developed a close, cordial and multi-dimensional relationship. The multi-faceted relationship has flourished based on continuity and mutual understanding and has progressively evolved into a binding friendship.

Important Bilateral Treaties and Agreements
The two countries have signed agreements on Tourism; Avoidance of Double Taxation; Combating Organized Crime, International Terrorism and Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic substances; Protocol on Foreign Office Consultations; Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; Air Services Agreement; Defence Cooperation; Science and Technology; Extradition; Cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports; Information Technologies; Economic Cooperation; Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters; Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons; Protocol for Amending the Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investment; Protocol of Intent on Labour Relations; Employment and Social Security; Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development; abolition of visa requirement for holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports; Programme of Cooperation in the field of Science & Technology, Programme of Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine and Programme for Cooperation in the Fields of Science, Education and Culture.

Bilateral Commercial and Economic Relations
Trade and investment relations between the two countries, though of modest level, have been on rise since last few years. However, there is still considerable untapped potential keeping in view Bulgaria's geo-strategic location, EU membership and India's strong economic growth and profile. Our trade with Bulgaria still reflects the traditional export basket of India which is not reflective of the true export profile of India of today. Mutually beneficial opportunities exist for investment in agriculture, food processing, IT, Pharmaceutical, manufacturing, tourism and construction.

Indian firm "Elder Pharmaceuticals" acquired a majority stake in a pharmaceutical company "Bio-meda" in Plovdiv in 2007. In 2014, the first major Bulgarian investment in India under “Make in India” initiative was done by the Bulgarian company Prime Petroleum for packaging bitumen in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. There has been modest level of investments by Indian and Bulgarian companies in sectors like agriculture, IT, food processing, pharmaceuticals, entertainment etc.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has almost doubled during 2012 - 2016. It has grown 76% last year, but there is a lot of scope for expanding the current bilateral trade basket as well as for enhancing the quantum in the existing items of export and import. There are great complementarities in IT, biotechnology, agriculture sector, food processing industry, hospitality and entertainment sectors. The following table shows India’s trade with Bulgaria during the last five years:


 (In Million US $)

Year

2012

2013

2014


2015



2016

India’s Exports

156.98

168.10

266.45

145.53

240.09

India’s Imports

90.09

93.65

103.66

93.72

182.22







Total

247.07

261.75

370.11

239.26

422.31

(Source: Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GOI)

Major items of Indian Exports to Bulgaria are Organic chemicals; unmanufactured tobacco; medicaments; electric parts; wool; paving blocks, slabs, bricks; polymers of propylene; ferro-alloys.

Major items of Bulgarian Exports to India are Laboratory instruments & apparatus; animal feeding preparations; kraft paper; radio-broadcasting apparatus; aluminium waste & scrap; medicaments; machinery for working rubber or plastics; copper waste & scrap; engines & motors.

The Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber (IBBC) was formed in August 2015 with the participation of reputed Bulgarian companies. Formed on the initiative of the Embassy, the Chamber has been working for expansion and facilitation of business and trade links between India and Bulgaria by creating appropriate awareness among the business establishments in the two countries. Official launch of the IBBC was done in a function on 16 February 2016 which was attended by Bulgarian Minister of Economy and more than 80 senior representatives of Bulgarian Business establishment. During the last two years, IBBC had held well attended business forums in Sofia(February, 2016), Plovdiv(June, 2016), Varna(October, 2016) and Burgas (November 2017).

The Bulgaria-India Business Forum was organized in Sofia on 25 September 2017 by Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), Balkan India Business Association (BIBA) and Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (EC-SEPC). An 11-member ECSEPC business delegation from India visited Bulgaria to participate in the event.

‘Bulgarian-Indian Technological Forum Mahatma Gandhi’ has been established in September, 2016 in Plovdiv to encourage, assist and support the development of tie-ups, initiatives and projects of mutual benefit between Bulgarian and Indian scientific institutes, organizations and firms in the sphere of high technologies. Ambassador Pooja Kapur delivered the key note address at the inauguration of the first course on Web Application Development at the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology, Plovdiv on 30 October 2017. She welcomed the naming of the International Higher School of Informatics and Electronic Leadership (IHSIEL) after Mahatma Gandhi and said that it was a proud moment in the relations between Indian and Bulgaria which have now matured to such an extent that we have such collaborations, which are forward looking and directly impact the relations of our countries.

Tourism is an area which holds prospects for both the countries. Bulgaria, with its beautiful mountains, the Black-Sea coast boasting of cities like Varna and Burgas, has become an attractive destination for Bollywood film Industry too. In 2005, a large contingent of Indian film stars and supporting crew camped in Bulgaria for shooting of the film ‘Kaafila’. In July 2006, Member of Parliament and film actor Shri Vinod Khanna visited Bulgaria for shooting of his film ‘Godfather’ followed by a visit by film actor Arbaz Khan for the same. The year 2014 witnessed a substantial increase in Indian films shooting in Bulgaria. Three Telugu films were shot at different locations in Bulgaria. This trend has continued in the years 2015 - 2016 with big banner movies like “Bahubali”, “Dilwale” starring Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol and Ajay Devgan’s “Shivaay were extensive shot at various locations in Bulgaria. The trend has been welcomed by the Bulgarian government as they are keen to encourage increased flow of tourists from India. Recently, a Telugu movie with provisional title, “PK 25” featuring famous Telugu super star Pawan Kalyan was extensive shot at various locations in Bulgarian in November 2017.

Bulgaria has selected India as a priority market for tourism promotion. An initiative to attract Indian Golfers to Bulgaria was launched in 2015 with the organisation of the first International Golf Tournament involving renowned Indian Golfer Shiv Kapoor who again visited Bulgaria in May, 2016 to participate in the second International Golf Tournament.

Cultural Relations and people to people contacts
While the interest of Bulgaria in India existed since many centuries, during the 19th century, the Bulgarian revolutionary Georgi Rakovsky expressed support and sympathy for the people of India on the occasion of the India's First War of Independence in 1857.

Indian culture has enjoyed considerable popularity in Bulgaria right from the days of Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Bulgaria in 1926 which was an important milestone in developing literary relationship between the two countries. Indian classics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, Upanishadas, Bhagvat Gita and Panchatantra as also the modern authors like Prem Chand, Mulk Raj Anand and Amrita Pritam are very popular among Bulgarians. Some of the eminent Bulgarian poets like Hristo Botev, Hristo Smyrensky and Nikola Vaptsarov have also been widely translated to Indian languages.

Existence of many Yoga centres, daily telecast of Hindi serials dubbed in Bulgarian, popularity of Indian cuisine, music and dance and increasing tourist traffic are pointers to the keen interest which Bulgarians have in Yoga, Ayurveda, Bollywood films and spiritual heritage of India. The first International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21 June 2015 in 9 Bulgarian cities and almost 9,000 people participated in the event. The Second International Yoga Day was celebrated in Bulgaria on 21 June, 2016 in which approximately 10000 people participated across 22 cities in Bulgaria. The third International Yoga Day was organized in Bulgaria on 24 June 2017 in which more than 10000 persons participated across 27 cities in Bulgaria. All the events were extensively covered in print and electronic media.

Sofia University has an Indology department within its Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures. This department, which completed 30 years of its establishment in 2013, plays an important role in spreading awareness about Indian languages, philosophy, history and culture in Bulgaria. It has been conducting courses at graduation and post-graduation levels and some students from this department go to the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan in Agra to learn Hindi every year. A documentary “Bharat Ek Anubhav” was produced by the Indology Department in November, 2015 which brings out details of three decades of development of the Department and India’s contribution.

Three India-related friendship / cultural societies - Friends of India Club, East-West Indological Foundation and Namaste Bulgaria- are involved in spread and propagation of Indian culture with support from the Indian Embassy. Some other factors which contribute to the two countries' goodwill and friendship are - visiting chairs of Hindi at Indology Department of Sofia University and of Bulgarian at Delhi University; Indira Gandhi High School in Sofia; Indira Gandhi Kindergarten in Pravetz and Georgi Stoikov Rakovsky Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Delhi.

Some of the cultural events organized during previous years were Kathak performance by Vibha and Abhimanyu Lal in December 2013, Hindustani vocal performance by Madhup Mudgal in January 2014, a Kathak dance performance by Ms Swati Tiwari in June 2015 and a Bharatnatyam dance performance by Ms. Anjana Rajan in June, 2016. Kalpana exhibition of masterpieces of figurative contemporary paintings was held between January and April 2015 at Sofia, Varna, Russe, Plovdiv and Burgas. A Photo Exhibition on Religion of India was held between January and June 2016 in Sofia, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Silven, Burgas and Varna which was very well attended at all these places.

In 2017 the major cultural events organized in Bulgaria included a sitar recital by Ustad Irshad Khan (nephew of Ustad Vilayat Khan) in Sofia on 31 March 2017 in collaboration with Devam Foundation; a national conference titled “India in Bulgarian Scholarships’ held at Bulgarian Academy of Social Sciences on 15-16 June 2017 in collaboration with Friends of India Club and performance by an 11-member ICCR sponsored Ras Garba troupe from Gujarat in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas from 15 – 25 August 2017. The troupe also participated in Burgas Folklore Festival on 21-25 August 2017. All the performances by group in Bulgaria were very well attended.

A photo exhibition ‘Apna Apna Bharat’ was organized at Sofia University on 25 September 2017, by the alumni of the Indology Department of Sofia University. The exhibition captured the impressions of students of the Indology Department who had completed one year post-graduation course at Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra during the last 15 years. The event was covered by Bulgarian National Television.

Government of India offers scholarships under ITEC programme to Bulgarian nationals. Bulgarian Diplomats have also been attending the Professional Courses for Foreign Diplomats organised by the Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi from time to time.

Indian Community
Indian community in Bulgaria is expected to be around 250 persons. A significant component of the Indian community is of students studying medicine in the Medical faculties of Universities of Sofia, Pleven, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. Some Indians are engaged in trading, restaurants, private employment etc. There are some representatives of IT companies, who have come on temporary deputations for developing software for banks and multi-national companies.

Air - Links with India
There are no direct air-links between India and Bulgaria. Indirect connections are through Vienna, Frankfurt, London, Moscow, Istanbul and Doha.

Schengen visa holders
Bulgarian government took a decision on 25 January, 2012 that until Bulgaria's full accession to the Schengen Area, the country will unilaterally apply visa-free regulations for holders of valid Schengen visas. According to the decision, holders of valid, multiple entry, Schengen visas may enter and stay in Bulgaria for a period of up to three months within each six-month period from the date of the first entry in this country without having a Bulgarian visa. Holders of single-entry Schengen visas and those whose Schengen visas have been utilized completely are not eligible for this facility.

Useful Resources :
Embassy of India Sofia Website:
http://www.indembsofia.org

Embassy of India Sofia FaceBook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInBulgaria

Embassy of India Sofia Twitter Page:
https://twitter.com/IndiaInBulgaria