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Bilateral

India – Bulgaria Relations

Indo-Bulgarian ties have traditionally been close and friendly. Diplomatic relations were established in 1954. Exchange of high level visits from time to time between the two countries has provided momentum to consolidate and broad base the bilateral ties. High level visits to Bulgaria from India were 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 in 1976 and 1983 and Mr. Peter Stoyanov in 1998, and Prime Ministers, Mr. Stanko Todorov in 1974 and 1980 and Mr. Sergei Stanishev in 2007 visited India. There are regular high level parliamentary contacts between the two countries. The last exchange of parliamentary delegation between the two countries were: a Parliamentary Delegation led by Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, Shri Somnath Chatterjee to Bulgaria in June 2008 and a parliamentary delegation, led by President of the National Assembly Mrs. Tsetska Tsacheva to India in November 2011. Bulgarian Parliament traditionally constitutes a Parliamentary Group for Friendship with India.

Bilateral Institutional Arrangements

In order to enhance bilateral relations including trade and economic cooperation, bilateral institutional arrangements like Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs), Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, Joint Working Group (JWG) on Information Technology, JWG on Health & Medicine, JWG on Science & Technology exist.

Bilateral Agreements Between India and Bulgaria

A number of bilateral agreements / MoUs have been signed inter-governmentally as well as between institutions, providing the framework for wide-ranging cooperation. Important bilateral agreements/MoUs include: Agreement concerning cultural relations (1963), India-Bulgarian Joint Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation (1973), Agreement on cooperation in the fields of Science & Technology (1974), Agreement on Merchant Shipping (1976), , Air Services Agreement (1992), MOU in the field of Defence Cooperation (1993), Agreement on Cooperation in Tourism (1994), Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation (1994), Agreement on Combating Organized Crime, International Terrorism and Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic substances (1994), Protocol on Foreign Office Consultations (1994), Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (1998), Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Science and Technology (2000), Agreement for Cooperation in the field of Agriculture, MoU between NCTI (National Centre for Trade Information, India) and BTPA (Bulgarian Trade Promotion Agency) [1998], Cooperation Agreement between the ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India) and BAEZ (Bulgarian Export Insurance Agency) [2002], Treaty on Extradition (2003), Agreement on Cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports (2003), MoU for cooperation between the Bulgarian Association for the Information Technologies and the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council of India (2003), MoU on Mutual Cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute and the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute (2004), Agreement on Economic Cooperation (2007), Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (2007), Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters (2007) – Not Ratified, Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (2007), Protocol for Amending the Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investment (2007), Protocol of Intent on Labour Relations, Employment and Social Security (2007), MoU between the National Small Industries Corporation Ltd., India, and the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (2007), Agreement on abolition of visa requirement for holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports (2009), , Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine (2011), Protocol on areas of possible future cooperation in such fields as trade, investments, energy, tourism, small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs], development of industrial zones and technological parks, science and technology, information technologies and communications, transport and agriculture (2012), Programme of Cooperation in the field of Science & Technology 2015-17 (2015), and MoU between the Bulgarian News Agency [BTA] and the Press Trust of India. [February 2015], Programme of Cooperation in the field of Education, Science and Culture 2015-2017 (2015), Memorandum of Understanding on India-Bulgaria Air Services Agreement (2016)

Commercial and Economic Relations

The Indo-Bulgarian Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was set up at Government level in 1973. The 17th Session of JCM was held on 15-16 October, 2012 in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was headed by Jyotiraditya Scindia, Hon’ble Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and Delyan Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism headed the Bulgarian side.

Year 2014 is the turning point as regards Bulgarian investment in India is concerned with Prime Petroleum starting operations in India for bitumen packaging in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra. In recent years, increased efforts have been made to further develop trade and investment relations between the two countries.

“Make in India” Roadshow was organized by the Embassy on 25.03.2015 in collaboration with Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At the initiative made by the Embassy, the Indian Bulgarian Business Chamber (IBBC) was formed on August 5, 2015 with the participation of reputed Bulgarian companies. IBBC was formally launched on 16 February at a well attended business event in Sofia in the presence of Bulgarian Minister of Economy H.E. Mr. Bojedhar Lukarski. Since then, IBBC has organized business Forums to reach out to business establishments in Plovdiv (June 2016) and Varna (October 2016).

The following table shows Bulgaria’s trade with India during the last ten years:

(In  Million  US $)

Year

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Indian imports

32.60

76.20

78.20

25.40

57.60

88.40

43.80

43.50

 64.90

69.400

Indian exports

27.90

84.10

85.50

69.60

64.30

85.30

96.40

164.10

153.40

151.20

Total

60.50

160.30

163.70

95.00

121.90

173.70

140.20

207.60

218.30

226.60

Major Indian Exports to Bulgaria : Organic chemicals; unmanufactured tobacco; medicaments; electric parts; wool; paving blocks, slabs, bricks; polymers of propylene; ferro-alloys.
Major Bulgarian Exports to India: Laboratory instruments & apparatus; animal feeding preparations; craft paper; radio-broadcasting apparatus; aluminium waste & scrap; medicaments; machinery for working rubber or plastics; copper waste & scrap; engines & motors.
Bulgaria and India offer business opportunities in many sectors. IT & Business Processing Arrangement, manufacturing, food processing, renewable energy, agriculture and tourism are some sectors which have been of interest to companies from the two countries for possible investments/ technology transfer. Last few years have witnessed successful establishment of some joint venture projects for mutual benefit. Tourism is an area which holds prospects for both countries. Bulgaria is emerging as an attractive destination for Indian film industry for shooting.

Culture

Indian culture enjoys considerable popularity in Bulgaria in modern times, right from the days of Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Bulgaria in 1926. Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian TV serials and spiritual heritage of India are increasingly gaining popularity in Bulgaria. The Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Sofia University has an Indology section, which, since 1983, has been conducting courses at graduation and post-graduation levels. There are three friendship societies which are active in Bulgaria. They are involved in spread and propagation of Indian culture through organization of cultural activities with support from the Indian Embassy. These are Friends of India Club, East-West Indological Foundation and Namaste Bulgaria Foundation.
The first International Day of Yoga was held on 21st June 2015 in Sofia and 8 other cities of Bulgaria. The second International Day of Yoga was held on a even larger scale 20th June 2016 in Sofia and 22 other cities simultaneously. Both events were organized by the Embassy in collaboration with East West Indological Foundation, Bulgarian Yoga Foundation, Bulgarian Yoga Associations etc.
Bulgaria, with idyllic picturesque mountains and beautiful coastline, is emerging as favourite destination for film shooting by Bollywood and Tollywood producers. In 2014, three big budget Telugu films were shot in different locales in Bulgaria. 2015 saw shooting of two big budget Bollywood films, Bahubali and Dilwale. Yet another film under the banner of Ajay Devgun Production titled “Shivaay” was shot extensively in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria, particularly the Golf resorts in and around Black Sea, is also emerging as a major attraction for Indian Golfers. Two editions of the Shiv Kapur International Golf Tournaments have been held so far in the Golf Resort in Balchik in 2015 and 2016.

ITEC and other scholarships

Government of India offers 15 scholarships under ITEC programme to Bulgarian nationals each year. 2-4 students from Indology Department of Sofia University are also sent to Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra to further learn Hindi language. During the last two years 3 students have been awarded scholarships under AYUSH scholarship scheme to pursue graduate and post graduate courses in Ayurveda, Yoga, etc. There is one visiting Professor of Hindi at Sofia University on ICCR Chair. A Bulgarian diplomat attended 61st PCFD course in 2016 at the Foreign Service Institute.

Air – Links with India

There are no direct air- links between any cities of India and Bulgaria. Indirect air-connections are through Vienna, Frankfurt, London, Moscow, Istanbul and Doha.

Indian Community in Bulgaria

The Indian community is very small numbering around 250. A part of them are students studying medicine in the medical universities of Sofia, Pleven, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. There are some Indians engaged in petty trade in consumer items. There are also some representatives of IT companies, who come on temporary deputations for developing software for banks and multi-national companies.

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 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 (with effect from 31 January, 2012). Holders of single-entry Schengen visas and those whose Schengen visas have been utilized completely are not being allowed to avail this facility.

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