Croatia's Ambassador to Bulgaria: The Most Important Advantage We have is our Membership in the EU #AmbassadorTalks
Ambassador Talks is back! We kick off 2023 with the ambassador of Croatia, Her Excellency Ms. Jasna Ognjanovac.
H.E. Ms. Jasna Ognjanovac presents her Letter of Credence to H.E. Mr. Rumen Radev, president of the Republic of Bulgaria
1. What is your opinion on the bilateral political and business relations between Bulgaria and your country?
Historically, Bulgaria and Croatia have enjoyed very good bilateral relations additionally strengthened by our common EU and NATO membership. Economic relations are on the steady rise every year yet there is still strong potential to widen this cooperation, especially in the fields of trade and investment.
2. What kind of improvement of these relations do you see in the near future and also long term?
I deeply believe in one of the main missions of diplomacy: people-to-people contacts, creating connections through cultural exchange, cooperation in education, tourism and sports. In this regard, we should work harder to connect the young people of our two countries who will further strengthen the traditional friendship between Bulgaria and Croatia and reinvent new ways of our future cooperation.
3. In your humble opinion, what is Bulgaria’s place in the modern world?
Bulgaria and Croatia are member states of the European Union as well as of NATO, two organizations playing significant political role in today's world. Sharing common values, political and economic goals as members of those two communities as well as participating in the common decisions influencing international political relations definitely give our two sovereign states additional importance in the modern world.
4. If you want to promote Bulgaria to investors from your country, what would be the 5 most important advantages you would mention?
The most important advantage is definitely our common membership in the EU, as well as Bulgaria's geographical location (proximity to Asia in the south/southeast, important Black Sea ports in the east, excellent connections with the South Mediterranean countries) in addition to the increasing digitalization and qualified labor force.
Opening of the school year at 102nd Elementary school "Panayot Volov" where Bulgarian children study Croatian language
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?
I am not an expert in branding, but after living in your beautiful country for more than three years now, I have realized Croatians, despite being very close to Bulgaria, know little about your country. In the field of tourism, besides the Black Sea resorts and the incredible ski resorts there are thermal resorts, so many people don't know about, there is ever-increasing high-quality Bulgarian wine production, archeological and historical heritage sites with new findings being discovered as we speak. The same is with the very strong IT industry and the fact that Bulgaria has one of the strongest Internet connections in Europe. In addition, one of my favorite topics, modern Bulgarian art and design, young talented artists who should get a prominent role in the future branding of your country.
6. What were the most important events organized by the Croatian Embassy last year?
Last year, Bulgaria and Croatia celebrated 30 years of the establishment of our diplomatic relations and we made the most of the improved epidemiological situation to present several cultural events to the Bulgarian public (exhibitions, theatre performances, and concerts). One of the exhibitions is still displayed on the Sveta Nedelya Square, at the tram stop, as part of Art4Diplomacy project. There one can find art photo of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb taken by the renowned Croatian photographer Marko Vrdoljak. An interesting bond between the Croatian National Theatre and the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia is they have been designed by the same architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer.
I hope the improved epidemic situation will continue next year as well and we are just in the process of selecting cultural events that we will organize in 2023. One of the most important events for our Embassy and the Croatians living in Bulgaria will be the opening of the Croatian-Bulgarian cultural center in Sofia by the Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer non-profit organization. It will be a place of a get-together for Croatians living in Sofia and their families (most of them married to Bulgarians) and a spot for organizing cultural events in both languages aiming to further connect our two peoples.
Presentation of art photo of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb on the Sveta Nedelya Square
7. How deep has the COVID pandemic affected the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Croatia?
Certainly, during the two years of COVID-19 pandemic, there were fewer bilateral meetings and visits, yet thanks to modern IT technology, we have managed to preserve our mutual good contacts. Last year, due also to our common 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral visits were increased in all levels and fields, and we will witness the same intensity this year as well.
8. What advice can you give to Bulgarians who want to do business with people from your country?
Croatia has exceptionally favorable geographical position, good cost competitiveness, efficient, innovative, highly educated and multilingual work force, attractive incentives for investments, business-oriented environment and free professional support for investors.
Lecture at the American University in Bulgaria
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?
I have been in Bulgaria for three and a half years now. Previously, I was Croatian Ambassador to Ireland, Deputy Head of Mission to the EU in Brussels during our membership negotiations and I dealt with the UN affairs in our Diplomatic Missions in New York and Vienna. In the 30 years of my diplomatic career, I held various positions with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
There is a certain closeness and mutual respect between our two nations, so I feel very comfortable and accepted in Bulgaria. The most fascinating place for me is Plovdiv and all the incredibly beautiful archeological sites one can explore literally everywhere.
10. If you have to describe Bulgaria in just three words, what would they be?
It is difficult to do it in just three words, because there are so many impressions, but let me try by using the three strongest impressions for me: the hospitality of the people, the beauty of your nature and the big potential you have in so many areas.
This year we decided to change some of our questions and the overall style of the series. Our interview with H.E. Ms. Ognjanovac took place in November 2022. Our readers can expect slightly changed questions for our new guests and another interview with Croatia’s ambassadors later in the year. Stay tuned…Kosovo is next week!
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.
Representatives of Embassies based in Bulgaria can contact Novinite for more information at Office@novinitegroup.com
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