A Public Discussion “The accession of Bulgaria to the EU in the memories of participants – secrets and surprises” took place on 17 December 2018 in Conference hall 1, Rectorate, Sofia University. The discussion was organized in the context of the preparation and publication of the unique digital archive with memories of the participants in the process of preparation and accession of Bulgaria to the European Union.
The archive was created upon the initiative and with the overall institutional support of the Diplomatic Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria and the team of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the Dept. of European Studies of Sofia University, and in partnership with the European Institute-Sofia, in the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme project.
The full conference hall of the Rectorate gathered interviewed participants in the process of accession of Bulgaria to the EU, among whom were Vladimir Kisiov, chief negotiator of Bulgaria to the EU and currently President of the Board of the European Institute-Sofia; Liubov Panayotova, expert and deputy-minister in the period of accession and currently Director of the European Institute, Dencho Georgiev, chief negotiator for the membership of Bulgaria to the WTO, Antoaneta Primatarova, deputy-minister of foreign affairs and ambassador at the Mission of Bulgaria to the EU and currently Programme Director in the Centre for Liberal Strategies, as well as Prof. Ingrid Shikova, director of the Centre for European Studies in the period until 2001 and of the Information Centre at the Delegation of the European Commission in Bulgaria in the period until 2007, and one of the founders of the European Studies department at Sofia University, head of the Department until 2012, and Assoc. Prof. Kaloyan Simeonov, head of European Affairs department in the administration of the Council of Ministers (2007-9) and currently Head of the Dept. of European Studies.
They shared their memories form the pre-accession period, offered their interpretations of the processes and some of the key events of the period, and shared a strong message to the young people in the hall that now the responsibility of the road of Bulgaria as an EU member is in their hands.
Among the participants in the discussion were also Assoc. Prof Mirela Veleva, professor at the Dept. of European Studies and leading researcher for the activities related to the preparation of the digital archive under the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence project. She shared her insights on the objectives and added value of the elaboration and updating of archives. Doctoral Student Ljubomira Popova, who conducted the majority of interviews, presented some specifics and her personal findings from the working process of conducting interviews. Prof. Georgi Dimitrov, author of the methodology of the study of the process of accession of Bulgaria to the EU in the memories of participants, presented some possible directions for interpretation of the extraordinarily rich and multi-faceted information, collected in the archive. The moderator of the event was Dr. Linka Toneva, member of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence team.
The importance of the historical process and the personal ownership and engagement with this process, led to heated arguments and discussions, which are yet another evidence of the need for future in-depth academic study of this archive.
Over 900 pages, dozens of interviews with direct participants in the events since the beginning of the 1990s, among whom were prime ministers, deputy prime-ministers, ministers, parliamentarians, diplomats, experts, non-governmental stakeholders, representatives of the academic community. Their interviews are available in the digital archive, published on the website of our Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence –
http://jeanmonnetexcellence.bg/archive/, as well as on the website of the Diplomatic Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria- http://bdi.mfa.government.bg/ – chapter „Living Archives“.