SPEECHES AND STATEMENTS
Statement by President Rosen Plevneliev at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting of Heads of State and Government (ASEM)
First if all I would like to express our compassion and solidarity with the people of France.
Of course, we are very grateful to our Mongolian friends for the wonderful organization of this conference.
Twenty years ago we came together and embraced the idea of bringing Europe and Asia closer. We understood that ensuring peace and stability is only possible through cooperation. And we have come far – 53 partners that today represent 60 % of the world population and more than 60% of international trade. Together we are shaping the world and building and contributing to a more secure and more prosperous future.
Bulgaria is in the heart of Southeast Europe and Southeast Europe is a meeting point between Europe and Asia. We are a crossroad and we are very proud that we serve as a transit hub for goods and services that enter the vast European market. So, Southeast Europe is a gateway to Europe and Bulgaria is in the very heart of that wonderful and beautiful part of Europe.
We know the importance of being better connected and are working very hard for this. Bulgaria is modernizing its infrastructure. And it is not just about railroads, sea, air, but it is also about digital infrastructure and digital connectivity. Bulgaria is very proudly increasing its innovation capabilities and building one the first innovation ecosystems in the region. And also we are very proud that this year we will be one of the top ten outsourcing destinations. That is making us more motivated to develop our infrastructure, digital and start-up ecosystems, to increase trade and deepen cooperation between Europe and Asia.
My country is a friend to everyone. We have a very balanced and principled foreign policy and Bulgaria is a driving force for integration and connectivity in the region, very proud to be an island of stability in the region in turbulent times. Of course, my country is very well known as the country of roses throughout Asia, of healthy yoghurt, of culture and tourism, of tolerant and peaceful coexistence of different religions.
Europe and Asia have already achieved a lot together. Since 2005 we doubled our trade. But to increase that partnership further, we need to increase the links between our regions on all levels – governments, businesses and people. We need to have a common long-term vision and we need to come closer together. As Bulgarian President I believe in synergies that will allow us to create a comprehensive ASEM concept for connectivity and coordinate our efforts to achieve peace and prosperity.
My country will hold the presidency of the European Council in the second half of 2018 and we will also be able to organize meetings of ministers of culture and ministries of finance in the ASEM format. Globalization and modern technologies are bringing our regions even closer together and developing connectivity will bring our states and peoples together.