Days of Moscow Culture in Bulgaria
The Days of Moscow Culture in Sofia, Varna and Pleven, organized by the Moscow Department of External Economic and International Relations, took place from September 30 to October 5, 2018.
Minister of the Moscow Government and Head of the Moscow Department of External Economic and International Relations Sergey Cheremin and the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova discussed cooperation between the capitals of Russia and Bulgaria in the spheres of healthcare, tourism, and transportation.
Fandakova said that Sofia and Moscow have similar development patterns, and that Bulgarians would like to see the same convenient infrastructure that is available in modern-day Moscow.
Sergey Cheremin responded by saying that both capitals are actively developing the transportation system as a whole, including the metro. “We can think about naming one of the Moscow metro stations ‘Sofiyskaya,’ and name one of your stations after Moscow,” the minister suggested.
The two sides expressed interest in intensifying cooperation in the sphere of healthcare. Sergey Cheremin said that Moscow has invested around 30 billion euros in modernizing clinics over the past six years. As a result, the city has seen an increase in life expectancy and a decline in mortality rates. According to the Head of the Moscow Department of External Economic and International Relations, the exchange of experience and work assignments completed by Moscow specialists and Sofia and Sofia specialists in Moscow will have a positive impact in terms of boosting the quality of medical care in both capitals.
Tourism was also covered during the negotiations. the Mayor of Sofia lamented that, in spite of the popularity of the Bulgarian Sea coast among tourists in Moscow and Russia, there are not a lot of them in Sofia. In response, Mr. Cheremin proposed to organize a tourist business mission of Bulgarian companies to Moscow in 2019. “We’ll bring together the biggest Russian operators and will ensure direct cooperation,” the Minister explained. He also expressed hope that the Bulgarian side will consider a proposal to hold Days of Sofia Culture in Moscow. “We’ll provide the best platforms, our music collectives, and will help organize this event. I think this would be a very important step in strengthening our cooperation,” the head of the Moscow Department of External Economic and International Relations added.
Sofia’s Central Military Club held a forum entitled “A Conversation About the City,” with speeches by the heads of architecture in both cities – Zdravko Zdravkov and Sergey Kuznetsov. Mr. Kuznetsov said that a key task for Moscow architects is to create a sort of public street theatre that would help people put down their mobile phones and spend more time interacting with each other.
The National Palace of Culture hosted the forum “Business Cooperation Between Moscow and Sofia.” The event started with a discussion of trade and economic cooperation, along with the investment potential of the two capitals. Afterward, there were roundtables dedicated to the development of road and transport infrastructure and the metro, as well as the preservation of cultural heritage sites and tourist attractions in Moscow and Sofia.
“Moscow has really become a very comfortable, beautiful, civilized, and safe city. In 2018, the capital was first in the world in terms of implementing information technology in the sphere of public services. Today, 230 public services are available to Muscovites online. We’re proud of outpacing big cities like Singapore and Shanghai in this regard,” head of the Moscow delegation Sergey Cheremin said during his speech.
The Minister also noted that Moscow is ready to provide support to Sofia for the reconstruction of public transportation, as well as for the expansion of the subway system.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria Irena Georgieva expressed confidence that the Moscow City Duma and the Bulgarian Parliament will discuss cooperation in the nearest future. Ms. Georgieva also talked about the importance of competent communication between the government and the people. “Just like Moscow, Sofia is a million-plus city, so the ways we work with the city’s population are very important. Right now, we’re regularly using new forms and internet resources to get information out to city residents,” she said.
Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Anatoly Makarov focused on the interest in cooperation in the sphere of tourism. According to him, it’s important to promote cultural and historical tourism in Moscow and Sofia. “In this regard, we can organize short, one- or two-week trips for those who are interested in the culture and history of the two capitals,” he explained.
Events in Pleven and Varna were also held as part of the Days of Moscow Culture. During one of these events, a decision was made to have Moscow and Varna cooperate in the spheres of education, healthcare, and tourism. An agreement in this regard was reached during a meeting between Minister of the Moscow Government and Head of the Moscow Department of External Economic and International Relations Sergey Cheremin and the Mayor of Varna Ivan Portnih.
“Historically, Moscow has been Varna’s partner, and I think the positive political changes that are taking place today will serve as an impetus for strengthening relations not only between our countries, but also between our regions,” Mr. Cheremin said while discussing economic cooperation.
The Mayor of Varna expressed confidence that relations between the two cities will continue to develop successfully, since, in spite of the differences in size, the governments of both cities face similar challenges. “We’re interested in Moscow’s experience in the spheres of education, culture, sports, the development of libraries and social activities for senior citizens,” the Mayor of Varna said.
The Days of Moscow Culture program in Varna included a round table entitled “The New Life of Cultural Spaces in European Capitals,” the opening of the art project “Striking Moscow,” volleyball games between junior teams, and a chess tournament.