Our intersections in many economic sectors allow us to lead active cooperation


Hon. Mr. Krzysztof Kraevski knows Bulgaria and Bulgarians - from 1998 to 2003, he was General Consul of Poland in Varna.Locals love and appreciate him; they make him an "Honorary Citizen" of their city. Born on the 3rd of August 1963 in Warsaw, Krzysztof Kraevski graduated in Political Sciences at the University of Warsaw, and then made a specialisation on international relations. From 1987 to 1993 he was a counsellor to the Ministers’ Council. From 2005 to 2010, he was an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Poland in Azerbaijan. He returned to his country and until 2014 he was Director of the Diplomatic Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since October 2014 he is an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Poland in our country. He is fluent in English, Bulgarian, German, and Russian. While his Order of Merit cannot be listed, they are from Poland, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Malta, France, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Netherlands ... He says that it is very important for an ambassador to like the country in which he operates. And he confesses that not only himself, but his whole family loves Bulgaria.

- Your Excellency, Bulgarians and Poles have a strong historical connection. In 2014, we celebrated 570 years of the Battle of Varna.
- This was an important anniversary for our two nations. I am glad that it coincided with the beginning of my mandate, as it allowed me to visit Bulgaria and to join in the festivities. You know, some time ago I was consul general for five years in this city. I like it, I have friends there. The anniversary there began with the exhibition "Poles in and for independent Bulgaria " and a postal stamp was validated with the image of Vladislav Varnenchik. In the park-museum "Varnenchik" a ceremony was held and attended by the regional governor Stoyan Pasev and Mayor Ivan Portnih. And most importantly, the Poles living in the city were there. For our country it is very important that the Bulgarian authorities honoured the anniversary - President Rosen Plevneliev sent a congratulatory address in which underlined the importance of the battle of 10th of November 1444 towards the European history. Moreover, as the anniversary coincided with the national holiday of Poland - November 11th, a gala concert was held in the Opera. I am very glad that in Bulgaria, on the date of November 10th, honours and celebrations are held to a very high level - mainly in Varna.
- In November, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev was on an official visit to Poland at the invitation of Polish - Bronislaw Komorowski. What was the purpose of the visit?
- This was the first official visit of President Plevneliev in Poland and I, of course, as an ambassador I was with him in Warsaw. It is extremely important for our bilateral relations that our presidents have such good contacts. As a representative of Poland in Bulgaria, I can say that we are very pleased with the visit. They discussed issues related to our cooperation within the EU, NATO, economic relations, tourism and others. President Rosen Plevneliev visited Gdansk - the city-symbol of freedom not merely for Poland. So I think the visit was very successful, within very good atmosphere and it was obvious that we think in all major topics equally.
- How to develop our bilateral relations now - economy, investments, turnover, tourism?
- Firstly, it is very important for them that both countries are members of the EU. This helps both Bulgaria and Poland. Secondly, both nations are in NATO. And thirdly, we have no problems in our relations. So my goal as Ambassador here is to have more contacts.
Bulgaria is a very important partner of Poland in the Balkans, and our intersections in many economic sectors allow us to lead active cooperation. As you probably know, the residents of Sofia ride Polish trams PESA and urban transport in Varna was upgraded with buses of the Polish brand "Solaris". The Warsaw Stock Exchange for securities listed on three Bulgarian companies from the pharmaceutical, financial sector and construction industry. In October in the capital "Mega Mall" was presented the exhibition "DesignedinPoland", which showed designs of contemporary Polish authors. It reaped so much success that we decided to issue a calendar of selected items from it. In November was held a Polish-Bulgarian forum on cooperation in the defence industry, with the participation of Deputy Ministers Arkadiusz Bonk and Lyuben Petrov.
The direct foreign investment in Poland in Bulgaria for the period 1996-2013 totalled 135 million euros. Polish companies are engaged primarily in the manufacture of building materials, furniture and textiles. As for Bulgarian investments in Poland, they are concentrated mainly in the distribution of wine, pharmaceutical products and parts for forklifts. Machines for metal elaboration are also being sold. In Poland, we had quite forgotten the good Bulgarian wine. Now we are returning to it. Here I want to mention that the owner of the winery "Katarzyna" is Polish – and it is a Polish female name, which corresponds to Bulgarian Katerina. I am pleased to say that its wine is very good.
During the past five years, the trade between Poland and Bulgaria doubled in 2013 and reached 1.12 billion euros.
Bulgaria remains one of the favourite tourist destinations for Polish citizens. In 2013 over 250,000 Poles visited the country. The positive trend in tourism was highlighted by the Polish President Komorowski during the already mentioned meeting with President Plevneliev.
We have great success in the absorption of European funds for regional development projects. We are ready to share with you our experience.
- Last year the Bulgarian-Polish Chamber of Commerce was established. What is its purpose?
- It was recently organized a meeting at the Embassy on the occasion of one year from its establishment. The aim of the Bulgarian-Polish Chamber of Commerce is to promote and support trade and economic relations between Poland and Bulgaria, as well as to represent and defend the interests of its members. It actively cooperates with the Sofia Chamber of Commerce. Last year the two institutions signed an agreement in which declared their readiness to exchange information, with intensive cooperation and support to establish contacts and implementation of joint projects between companies from Poland and Bulgaria. People in the Chamber are being active and concerned. But it is still young; a year is still a baby, so to speak.
- What is the situation of the Polish Institute in Sofia - one of the most active and popular foreign cultural institutes in the country?
- I am very glad that it is a well-known "address" in Sofia. The Polish Institute is active in both the program of cultural events in the capital and in many Bulgarian cities. I see that it is much respected, that has an interest in its initiatives and I gladly participate in them. I am sure that the Institute will continue to exist in Bulgaria. And once again I have to emphasize - it is a known brand, a visited address in Sofia, because it manages to combine tradition with a rich and interesting program.
- It seems that among the many links between our nations’, most powerful are those in education, science and culture?
- Yes, actually we can boast of very good cooperation in these areas. Our rich common history prompted us to organize during March, last year, a conference "Poland and Poles in the new Bulgarian history", in which the Polish and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences actively cooperated. The links between these two institutions have strengthened with the signing of a cooperation protocol by their Presidents in the framework of President Plevneliev’s visit in Poland.
I am glad that the Bulgarian language and culture are taught in seven Polish universities and Polish is taught in five Bulgarian universities.
I would very much like to organize a week of Polish culture during the summer season, when Bulgaria has a large number of tourists in one of the seaside towns. So we can attract to the events not only Bulgarian audience but also foreign. But you have to consider things well because money is needed and good organization level.
- You are only a few months in our country, what are your priorities?
- I'll just say that we have very good political relations at the level of presidents. But, unfortunately, in recent times we have regular contacts at the level of governments. And this is very important. As member states of the EU we have to be more active politically, because we have common interests. I remember some time ago when Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had excellent contacts with our Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is now president of the European Council. I was director of state protocol then and I was accompanying Mr Tusk during his visit to Bulgaria. I remember the visit of Mr Borisov in Poland. They both have a very good relationship at the moment. So I would like to build those relations again. This is a high priority. And another thing. I had a meeting with Defence Minister - Nikolai Nenchev, and we decided that we have to organize the exchange of delegations rapidly next year. So I am very pleased with the results.
- The foundations of the Polish-Bulgarian diplomatic relations seem to be hiding behind the created by a decision of the Krakow Supreme People's Committee in the spring of 1915 Press bureau in Sofia. In 2015 will be one hundred years since.
- Our official diplomatic relations were established three years later, in 1918, but I am very glad of your question, because it reminded me of the anniversary, which is important and we have to think how to celebrate.
- When you have free time, and we all know that it is not much for an ambassador, how do you spend it, what are your favourite activities?
- I am a philatelist, I collect postal stamps and I'm very proud that I have a collection of modern Bulgarian brands. I have very good contacts with philatelists in Bulgaria. One of them, Hristo Rachev - a great man began to collect for me Bulgarian brands when I was in Varna. I'm very proud that I have such a friend. The NDK has philatelic shop and I gladly visit and see the marks. I am very happy when I see something Bulgarian outside Bulgaria. Not only as an ambassador of Poland in Bulgaria, but as a small Ambassador of Bulgaria abroad. It is very important for an ambassador to like the country in which he operates. And my wife, daughter and I love it.
- How did you celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
- First I want to wish all Bulgarians for the New Year to be healthy, to have joy, love, good luck!
Christmas is a family holiday, always looking forward. I have very good memories of it from small - the atmosphere at home was always happy, cheery. Many guests who would come had gifts, and on Christmas Eve the aroma of dishes without meat wafted from the kitchen. In our table at Christmas we always have carp. And after dinner, we immediately open the presents, we cannot wait for the morning. How I spent this Christmas? I spent it here, in Bulgaria with my family. My daughter who is 13 years old and that I really love had written a letter to Santa and waited eagerly for the presents. My wife’s parents had come to visit. We showed them how wonderful Sofia and the people are here. And I am not saying it as a diplomatic compliment. In Poland they often ask me what the people in Bulgaria are like. I can say that they are as I remember them years ago when I was general consul in Varna - openhearted, dear and have what for us Slavs is very important - the Slavic soul.

Hon. Mr. Krzysztof Kraevski with the presidents of Poland and Bulgaria - Bronislaw Komorowski and Rosen Plevneliev
photographer: Wojciech Grendzhinski source: Bureau of the President of the Republic of Poland