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President Plevneliev’s visit to Korea ushers in new stage of bilateral cooperationAmbassador Petar Andonov discloses at National Day function

Ambassador Petar Andonov of the Republic of Bulgaria in Seoul disclosed that the official visit of President Rosen Plevneliev of his country to Korea last May provided an opportunity to enter into a new stage of successful partnership between Bulgaria and Korea.
Speaking at a reception he hosted at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on March 3, 2016, Ambassador Andonov said, “The visit demonstrated that both sides are determined to seek innovative ways to further expand the scope of their bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, to infuse it with specific and meaningful content and to achieve deliverable results.”
Then he said that “for the first time in the history of relations between the two countries, the Republic of Bulgaria and Republic of Korea have upgraded their bilateral relations to the comprehensive and future-oriented partnership in a Joint Declaration signed by the Presidents of the two countries.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this article.)

There were many Korean and international dignitaries attending the reception and among them, from the Korean side, were Ambassador Choi Sung-joo for Performance Evaluation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea, Honorary Consul General Kim Hi-yong and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (publishing 3 English and 2 Korean news media).

▲President Park Geun-hye (right) and her Bulgarian counterpart, President President Rosen Plevneliev, shake hands with each other during President Plevneliev’s visit to Korea in May 2015.
Attendance from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps was very large and, in a rare example, there also was Ambassador Mark W. Lippert of the United States. Among the many other envoys and their spouses, estimated at a hundred, were Ambassadors Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic, Aingeal O’onoghue of Ireland, Dato Rohana binti Ramli of Malaysia, Zahid Nasrulah Khan of Pakistan, Irineo Raul Silvero Silvagni of Paraguay and Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia.

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Andonov:
Third of March is our National Day and I am glad that you are here tonight to help us mark it. May I thank you for your continued interest in Bulgaria and contribution to Bulgaria-Korea friendship over the years.

2015 was a remarkable year in our bilateral relations with the Republic of Korea. We marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations noting with satisfaction the active development of our cooperation in a wide range of areas such as political dialogue, trade and investment, science and technology, education, culture and people-to-people exchanges. Republic of Bulgaria and Republic of Korea are committed to the advancement of the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and to their role in finding durable solutions to important global issues such as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change and sustainable development.

▲Ambassador Petar Andonov of Bulgarian in Seoul (sixth from left, front row) poses with other ambassadors and Korean and international dignitaries at the National Day reception of Bulgaria at the Grand Hyatt Seoul.

The official visit of H.E. Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, to the Republic of Korea from 13 to 15 May 2015 at the invitation of H.E. Mme. Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea provided an opportunity to enter into a new stage of successful partnership between our countries. The visit demonstrated that both sides are determined to seek innovative ways to further expand the scope of their bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, to infuse it with specific and meaningful content and to achieve deliverable results. For a first time in the history Republic of Bulgaria and Republic of Korea have upgraded their bilateral relations to the level of comprehensive and future-oriented partnership in a Joint Declaration signed by both Heads of States.
As a result of the visit Bulgaria and Korea signed memorandums of understanding for cooperation in the field of defense, science and technology, education and culture and sports.

I would like to assure you that we follow closely the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, which is an important part of the political dialogue between Sofia and Seoul. Many times Bulgaria reaffirmed its commitment to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and called on the DPRK authorities to restore its dialogue with the international community, including within the six-party talks. Bulgaria expressed a deep concern and defined as a ‘provocative act’ the fourth nuclear test conducted by DPRK on January 6th. Just several days before the sixth missile test Bulgaria called on the DPRK authorities to reconsider its decision and to refrain from doing so. After the test was conducted on February 7th we strongly condemned the launch of a long-range ballistic missile by the DPRK defining it again as a ‘provocative act’.

▲From left: Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Ambassador Aleksandr Timonin of Russia, Chairperson Yeo Mung-ju of Boutique Gratia Resort Hotel of Samcheok of and Ambassador Milian Lajciak of Slovakia.
Bulgaria will continue to encourage and facilitate business partnership and cooperation with Korean companies, particularly in the areas of information and communications technologies (ICT), infrastructure, manufacturing exports, transportation & logistics and tourism.
Bulgaria and Korea have competitive edges in hardware and software industries respectively, which is a solid base for active partnership between companies of both countries under the concept of ‘creative economy’ implemented by the administration of H.E. President Mme. Park Geun-hye. Such processes will be facilitated by the MoUs signed at the time of the visit of Bulgarian President H.E. Mr. Rosen Plevneliev to the Republic of Korea last May between the first innovation eco-system in Southeastern Europe Sofia Tech Park and Samsung Electronics and between Bulgarian Association of Computer Software Companies and Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy and Innovation and K-Software Forum. In collaboration with Samsung Electronics so called “Room of the Future” was opened at Sofia Tech Park in December last year.
The first session of Intergovernmental Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation was held successfully in Sofia on October 6th last year as a first very important follow-up activity of the summit meeting between the Presidents of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Korea. We expect the second session of the Committee for Industrial Cooperation and the third session of the Committee for ICT to be held later this year.
I have to confess that I am not the most popular Bulgarian in Korea. I was trying hard to be, but I faced a severe competition and finally I lost the battle against Mr. Mihal Ashminov, co-owner of Zelen Bulgarian restaurant in Seoul. Due to his very successful participation in the TV show “Refrigerator” on JTBC he contributed a lot to the efforts of our Embassy to make Bulgaria more popular to Korean viewers as an attractive destination for tourism, good food and quality wines. So I am very proud of Mihal who became a real Ambassador of the Bulgarian culinary and wine culture to Korea. I would like also to express my gratitude and high appreciation to his brother Filip Ashminov, co-owner of Zelen restaurant, Mr. Vasil Terziyski, its main chef and the whole team of professionals who prepared a special food corner for tonight’s reception and for their active participation in many other embassy’s activities.

▲From right: Ambassador Andonov of Bulgaria, Honorary Consul General and Mrs. Kim Hi-yong and senior members of the Bulgarian Embassy in Seoul.

I would like to mention that for a first time in our bilateral relations in October last year a famous young Bulgarian pop & alternative rock singer Miryan Kostadinov visited Korea for concerts and participation in TV and radio shows by invitation of Korea Foundation. He was very well received by the Korean audience in Seoul, Busan and Changwon and since February 1st this year he signed a contract with CJ Entertainment & Media for presentation of his music on the Korean market.
In a few minutes you will enjoy the performance of another very popular in Korea Bulgarian young pop singer, Maria Kostadinova. She already won awards in a number of different competitions in Korea with her incredible talent. Thank you very much, Maria for being here tonight!
I would like to thank all of you once again for joining us this evening and sharing our celebratory spirit. I would especially like to thank Mr. Kim Hi Yong, Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Seoul for 24 years who has made with his sponsorship tonight’s reception such an outstanding event. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Choi Kang-Yong, our Honorary Consul in Busan for more active and dynamic relations between our countries in all aspects.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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