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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Diminished during the communist era, then reactivated when the Wall fell, under the leadership of a President of the Republic and French-speaking and French-loving Ministers of Culture, “Francophony” became more consistent in Bulgaria during the Mauritius Summit in 1993 with accession to the OIF (International Organisation of La Francophonie). The French cultural presence has a long tradition dating back to the Middle Ages and grew under the Ottoman Empire. Our cultural cooperation scheme, significantly reactivated in the last ten years, is based on the French Institute in Sofia, the network of 8 provincial “Alliance Française” (Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Kazanlak, Pleven, Plovdiv, Stara-Zagora, Varan, Veliko-Tarnovo) and the French Secondary School “Victor Hugo” in Sofia. In addition, nearly 10,000 students are accommodated in 59 bilingual secondary schools and there are 8 French university courses, relayed by an extensive scholarships program. While French is not the most common foreign language in this country, in favor of Russian for older generations (which was mandatory), and English for younger generations, “Francophonie” in Bulgaria benefits from quality language teaching and various cooperation tools, participating in developing an original French-speaking landscape in South-East Europe: Bulgaria ranks as the second largest country in Central and Eastern teaching French, with 10% of secondary education staff. An agreement between our two governments was signed on December 2nd, 2003 regarding providing France a 99-year lease, free of charge, for a building in the capital for cultural cooperation, which, before war, was home to the Alliance Françiase’s former building. This agreement will provide for grouping cultural services in one location with increased visibility for them, once renovations are completed. A Bulgarian cultural space was opened in Paris by Bulgaria.

Other Forms of Cooperation

Our cooperation is part of Bulgaria’s integration into the EU since it joined on January 1st, 2007. The primary objective remains participating in strengthening Bulgaria’s administrative capacity focusing, on the one hand, on support for projects facilitating European integration (for example through twinning) and, on the other, training Bulgarian officials in French. France has established 14 PHARE institutional twinnings since the beginning of 1998. We support Bulgaria in many fields, including agriculture, justice and home affairs, social affairs, administrative and public service reform. Selecting our expertise for the project to “improve practices and standards of the local Bulgarian police and optimize its management,” as well as providing a French adviser to the Interior Minister to assist with institutional reforms and participate in creating an investigative police force is further evidence of our strengthening cooperation, which should help support in-depth reform in this area.

Updated on 15.06.11

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All rights reserved - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development - 2014