Interview with H.E. Delfin Pllana on Kosovo's Independence Day #AmbassadorTalks
Kosovo celebrates 15 years of independence. The youngest country in Europe has so far been recognized by 117 countries, including Bulgaria. The anniversary will be marked with a military parade, concerts and various events across the country. At the invitation of Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Yotova arrived in Pristina.
Novinite is honored to interview the Ambassador of Kosovo in Bulgaria, His Excellency Mr. Delfin Pllana, on this special day.
1. What is your opinion on the bilateral political and business relations between Bulgaria and your country?
The Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Bulgaria enjoy excellent bilateral relations at all levels. The Republic of Kosovo was officially recognized by the Republic of Bulgaria as an independent and sovereign state on March 20, 2008. With the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral cooperation has intensified in areas of interest to both countries, both in terms of establishing a legal framework for cooperation and advancing bilateral and regional cooperation. Dozens of protocol visits of the highest levels have taken place over the years, several agreements have been signed and a number of them are currently in the process of negotiation in various fields. From the current topics, both sides are in the process of evaluating the progress of the implementation of various agreements signed between the two countries, as well as increase the dynamics for signing of more bilateral agreements. Bulgaria has been a valuable partner of Kosovo in its efforts for membership in international mechanisms and in all cases has been a supporter of membership. Bulgaria is one of the main regional allies and partners which can help us in our road towards NATO and EU membership and Kosovo can benefit a lot from Bulgaria’s experience in the Euro-Atlantic integration process. We would welcome for Bulgaria again to be at the forefront of EU member states as a genuine and strong advocate of the EU integration of the region. The Republic of Kosovo values Bulgaria also as an important partner in the process of strengthening of its international subjectivity.
2. What kind of improvement of these relations do you see in the near future and also long term?
There is potential for more economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries. The biggest amount of businesses operates in trade but I believe there are growing opportunities to work more on the service support segments, ICT outsourcing, transport, agriculture, mining etc. There is a potential to collaborate more in the ICT sector where Kosovo’s human potential can bring added value in the outsourcing sector as well as in the automotive sector which is quite developed in Bulgaria. Kosovo is ready to fill in human capital gaps that Bulgaria may have in the near future, with talented skilled force in ICT, software development, programming, robotics, mechatronics or engineering through near-shoring projects as well as outsourcing.
3. In your humble opinion, what is Bulgaria’s place in the modern world?
From a strategic point of view, Bulgaria is a very important country being at important geo-strategic crossroads as well as an established and a valued member of EU with decisive impact. It has a great potential to lead and support the region of the Western Balkans in the pathway towards EU membership as well as attract investments from abroad due to many objective advantages.
4. If you want to promote Bulgaria to investors from your country, what would be the 5 most important advantages you would mention?
Bulgaria has a very competitive geostrategic location being a member of EU and at crossroads between Europe and Asia, it has highly skilled and cost-effective labor, access to big markets, low operational costs and favorable tax systems.
5. Do you think Bulgaria can improve its image or branding and if so – do you have an idea or advice you could share with us?
Bulgaria has a great tourism potential having such a wonderful nature, beautiful landscapes, established Black sea touristic resorts and cultural heritage that is unique. However, one of the great potential lies with the youth it has, as the most precious asset that Bulgaria has and which are the best Ambassadors of Bulgaria.
6. What were the most important events organized by the Embassy of Kosovo last year?
Last year we have had a number of interesting events where we tried to promote Kosovo’s potential in many fields, starting from tourism, culture, ICT sector, economy etc. On the other hand, it was a year in which there were a dozen of high level visits from the Republic of Kosovo state dignitaries to Bulgaria, including the visit of the President of the Republic H.E. Ms. Vjosa Osmani Sadriu, who visited Bulgaria on 30th November to 1st of December with the invitation from the Bulgarian President, H.E. Mr. Rumen Radev, showing that an already excellent bilateral cooperation between our countries is building its foundations ever stronger and stronger through these high level state visits.
On 6th of April last year an ICT Forum was held in Sofia with participation of around 80 companies from Kosovo and Bulgaria. This shows the potential that exists and the need to facilitate interaction between interested companies from both countries. Kosovo Embassy in Sofia is doing its outmost to build collaboration bridges between companies from Kosovo and Bulgaria. In October, together with the State Cultural Institute and Doma Art Foundation we organized an exhibition promoting Kosovo’s contemporary art scene, where six young artists exhibited their works at the Mission Gallery, Toplocentrala and Doza Gallery. This was a unique opportunity for these young artists to exhibit and showcase their artistic talent, and most importantly establish long-lasting relationships with fellow Bulgarian artists and multiply similar contemporary art projects in the future. This and other initiatives were in the realm of establishment of footprint narratives of our own as part of regional and international economic and cultural contexts.
7. How deep has the COVID pandemic affected the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Kosovo?
COVID pandemic was a huge obstacle to undertake activities with the objective of enhancing bilateral relations between Kosovo and Bulgaria as there was a limited number of visits, contacts and travel. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions we were restrained from celebrating together the Independence Day of the Republic of Kosovo last year as a moment where we cherish bilateral relations and celebrate on joint successes. Due to COVID-19 pandemic local circumstances and restrictions on international mobility we weren’t able to excel and reinforce as planned on already excellent traditional relations that exist between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Bulgaria at all levels, however, as soon as restrictions were removed, there was an elevation of interaction that enabled an increased communication and collaboration.
8. What advice can you give to Bulgarians who want to do business with people from your country?
Economic exchange between both countries is growing with a solid pace, however, potential is much bigger for further deepening especially in the field of joint investments, production, commerce, agriculture and the ICT sector through combined near-shoring projects and outsourcing. The Republic of Kosovo possesses talented and highly educated workforce, an excellent investment climate therefore Bulgarian investors are more than welcome to explore and conduct investments there. The Republic of Kosovo is around 90km air distance far from Bulgaria, therefore this is an advantage that both sides need to use in achieving business related objectives as well exchange experiences in many business fields.
9. Tell us please a little bit about yourself – your professional diplomatic career, how long you have been in Bulgaria, the most fascinating places you have visited in Bulgaria, or even local dishes you have tried?
Before I joined the diplomatic service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, I had built a career around the NGO sector, consultancy with international organizations and also had some media related engagements. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to study abroad, in Germany, Hungary and Greece, as this international experience has created important foundations that have helped me in my current work.
I was born and raised in Pristina, an emblematic place for many reasons, but above all because it builds around unprecedented youth vibrant dynamics and wherever you go, you will be always looking for something that is missing which you can find only in Prishtina. On the other hand, Bulgaria is an enchanting country, it makes you feel unique with its rare beauties, with a fascinating nature, rare and unique history, multi-complex archeology and architecture which is ancient but preserved so nicely at the same time. Apart from beautiful Sofia, I have visited many parts of Bulgaria and all of them are unique, beautiful and captivating in their own way, therefore I wouldn’t want to distinguish and single out any of them. Banitsa, of course, is an amazing dish, as well as dishes such musaka, tarator or sarmi, which by the way are very common dishes in Kosovo as well.
10. If you have to describe Bulgaria in just three words, what would they be?
Hospitality, beautiful nature & landscape and agile society.
Novinite's “Ambassador Talks” is a series of interviews with ambassadors or heads of missions accredited to Bulgaria. Our goal: to understand their point of view on current developments - both domestic, bilateral and international. In addition, our guests have the opportunity to promote their country and share information about future events regarding their embassies. You can read our interviews from season 2022 here.
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