Seychelles ex-President: EU Wealth will Help Bulgaria

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | July 6, 2004, Tuesday // 00:00
Seychelles ex-President: EU Wealth will Help Bulgaria Sir Mancham: “Bulgarian people are open and fashion-minded.” Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (

Sir James Mancham became the first President of the Seychelles when the country was declared a sovereign republic in 1976. Following a coup, he spent more than fifteen years in exile in London promoting joint ventures and transfer of technologies mainly from European to developing countries. During his visit to Sofia last year, Sir Mancham signed an agreement with Maxim Behar, CEO of M3 Communications Group, Inc. to attract foreign investors to Bulgaria's tourism sector.

Sir James Mancham spoke to Editor Petya Bondokova.

Q: Does Bulgaria have some special advantages as compared to other Balkan countries?

A: Yes, I think so. I think Serbia, unfortunately, is still recovering from the war problem. Turkey will find it a challenge to join the EC, so we are not going to see Turkey in for quite a while. Greece has already matured in terms of tourism and I think Bulgaria can borrow a lot from Greece.

But I think especially at the human level Bulgaria has got a lot of positive advantages. People ask the question, "What does a Bulgarian look like?". And to many people in Europe and America this is a big question mark. And I think it comes as a surprise that these people have a sort of a lifestyle like that in Italy. People who are open, fashion minded. And this is also a place with a potential for nightlife - this does not exist in many other regions. I think that Bulgaria is very well positioned.

Q: Could there be a time when Bulgaria becomes too crowded, and thus not so attractive for tourists?

A: Your advantage is that you are just starting to attract interest and investments to the tourism area. You can take into account the experiences of other nations, and make sure you don't repeat the mistakes. Again, you can turn a disadvantage to a privileged position. So you can chart a development cause, which is commensurate to your capacity, internal infrastructure, and human resource. You are now going into the EC. Also there is the very important concept of sustainability - to promote an industry in a way in which you can sustain it.

These are very good guidelines, which you can follow. You are starting from the best situation, because you were isolated before.

Q: Do you believe that EU membership will boost Bulgarian economy?

A: Yes. No doubt about it. Because then an investor realizes his investment is subject to the relative stability of the whole Europe. There are so many benefits because of the economic index, which prevails here. Bulgaria stands to benefit a lot from the collective wealth of Europe.

For example, a lot of Irish people used to work in London in the construction industry. Now everyone at home is employed, in fact they are even getting people from overseas.

The problem that sometimes arises is that you may have some wealthy people that would come and then buy some of the best side and then develop it. Sometimes jealousy crops in. Like in Majorca - the Germans ended up buying all the beautiful villas, because they had the purchasing power. Majorcans initially were so happy to sale their villas, because of the amount of money they were able to get as compared to the prices when Spain was not in the EC. Suddenly they found most of the great villas inhabited by or belonging to Germans. And then they had a little bit of jealousy cropping in. Majorcans started feeling like second-class citizens in their own country.

But the market is also going to enable people from Bulgaria to go and seek opportunities in other parts of the common market.

Q: Do you think Bulgarian business should focus on Europe, or look to other regions of the world?

A: I think today we are living in a global village, and you must be globally oriented. But there is a certain level of priority, which is created by your move toward Europe. You should consolidate your stability and bring about a lot of economic contribution.

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