Resilience, innovation and digital transformation in the ICCB 2021 agenda. Present an interview with the new Italian Ambassador in Sofia, Giuseppina Zarra

The past twelve months have been full of challenges. Constant reviews in programmatic and managerial terms overcome thanks to resilience, creativity and the strong effort to effectively and efficiently manage the activities of the promotion of Italy, the strengthening of bilateral relations between Italy and Bulgaria.

Faced with the climate of uncertainty and volatility, the need to share information and updates and support for the Italian business community in the Country have not been as evident as in the last year, certifying how business organizations, such as the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, can play a “pivotal” role by keeping all entrepreneurs updated and informed. More than 20 webinars and 25 virtual networking meetings, as well as customized continuous assistance actions, were carried out from the beginning of the pandemic until the end of the year.

It is precisely starting from these fundamentals that the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria continues its mission in 2021, in support of the promotion of Made in Italy and the strengthening of bilateral relations between Italy and Bulgaria in the economic, industrial, commercial, cultural, sporting, educational and training fields. “Everyone’s commitment, the adoption of a resilience approach and the need to continue to innovate, activating or continuing the digital transformation path, represent the key assets for the economic growth of our two Countries”affirmed the President Montecchi.

New initiatives are planned for 2021 virtual and in presence to promote Made in Italy, professional events (B2B and B2C), seminars to attract Italian investments in Bulgaria and Bulgarians in Italy, country presentation, incoming and outgoing missions, social business networking events. The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria also intends to continue to “focus” on the enhancement of professionalism and skills in order to contribute to making more performing and SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-Oriented and Time Bound – the economic activities of associative network as well as the entrepreneurial one in the Italian and Bulgarian territories.

The 2021 promotional plan takes into consideration the consequences generated by the global health pandemic emergency, the Covid-19 containment measures adopted by the Italian and Bulgarian governments and the economic growth priorities of Italy and Bulgaria and is implemented in collaboration with the entrepreneurial and institutionalassociative network (partner, Trade Fairs companies, Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations, National Agencies, Regions, etc), with the Italian chamber network abroad as well as with the Sistema Italia in Country, coordinated by the Italian Embassy in Sofia.

It is precisely in relation to the Italian diplomatic representation that the Communication Department of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria conducted an interview with the Ambassador of Italy in Sofia, S.E. Giuseppina Zarra, who assumed her duties at the beginning of the new year.

  1. What are the central dossiers in bilateral relations?

The wide-ranging bilateral relations between the two Countries are excellent and are finally experiencing a particularly intense moment. I remember the two official visits of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio to Bulgaria in 2020. It will be crucial to maintain this active dialogue, stimulating new meetings also given the significant challenges that await us and for which a coordinated approach at European level will be essential. Indeed, Italy and Bulgaria have many interests in common at the multilateral level, we collaborate well both within the EU and NATO.

Despite the crisis caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, Italy has confirmed its position as one of Bulgaria’s main trading partners for 2020 as well. So it will be very important trying to maintain the excellent position acquired, recovering pre-crisis levels and further increasing bilateral trade and investment flows between the two Countries, expanding them to innovative sectors within programs of the European Union, such as the Green Deal and the Next Generation EU.

I also intend to give new strength to the cultural partnership between the two Countries, with particular reference to the teaching and dissemination of the Italian language in Bulgaria, creating a closer and greater connection between the didactic-academic dimension and the world of work. Indeed, knowledge of Italian can represent an asset of great value for Bulgarian students, especially in relation to the large Italian industrial and entrepreneurial scenario in the Country. But the language is only the basis for the promotion of the Italian culture and way of life: Italy is a cultural power and still has a very high potential to explore and promote, not only in traditional sectors, but also in avant-garde ones. Italy is not just a Country, but a way of being and living.

  1.  Yours is a return to Bulgaria: how have the Italian community and the services of the Embassy changed?

I came back to Bulgaria after over 20 years. Changes are in every corner and I find it hard to recognize the Sofia I left in the late 90s in the modern European capital we see today. At the same time, however, I see the same traits in the general atmosphere and behavior of the people from my first experience here. Bulgaria has changed, it is true, it has joined NATO and the European Union. But the spirit of the Country and the sociable behavior of the people have not changed at all and it is a pleasant feeling to find the characteristic of the Country again after these years.

The Embassy has also changed adapting its structure and the services provided to the evolving political and socio-economic situation. Today, with the common belonging to the Euro-Atlantic family, political relations between the two countries take place more and more in the rooms of the Brussels palaces, and, however, it is essential that they are carefully prepared bilaterally and therefore here in Sofia. On the other hand, the size of the Italian community residing in the Country is clearly increasing, especially retirees, students and young workers in the service and IT sector.

  1. About the commercial relations, how do you intend to promote the Country System in Bulgaria?

When I arrived in the Country I found a well represented and structured Italian System. The ICE Agency deals with firms assistance and support for participation in trade fairs and events, accompanying Italian entrepreneurs in their entry into the Bulgarian market and promoting Italy in the Country. The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria and Confindustria Bulgaria, as associative institutions, grouping an important number of Italian economic operators already in the Country, provide assistance and important opportunities for comparison and enrichment of the commercial network.

With the coordination of the Embassy, ​​the institutions/entities of the Italian System in Bulgaria are also active in many integrated promotion initiatives that involve all the main sectors of traditional excellence of Made in Italy, from cinema to food and wine, from design to modern art and contemporary.

Finally, let us not forget the fundamental action of the Italian Cultural Institute, leading actor of the cultural and linguistic dimension of the promotion of Italy and its immense cultural heritage which is an expression of our history, of our society but also of our vision of the future, where Italy wants to go. And this is what we want to make known and promote.

2021-02-05T12:47:21+02:00February 2nd, 2021|

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