22 March, 2023
Vladimir Mitev (photo: Vladimir Mitev)

The birth date of the Bulgarian-Romanian site, which you read, is 19 September 2015. What happened in the last five years and what follows?

Vladimir Mitev

In the summer of 2015 I returned to Rousse as an unemployed person, who has doubts it makes sense to be a journalist in Bulgaria. My attempt to become a corporate employee didn’t end with success. I saved the sense of being a journalist with focus international news without even realising I am doing that through a decision with great potential for change – the foundation of the blog “The Bridge of Friendship”. 

In the beginning I thought it could be just an archive for the articles on Romania, which I write inthe Bulgarian press. Soon I realised that I have conceived a project, which can be bridge that transfers knowledge in both directions. As the blog’s reporter I visited TEDxBraşov, the village of Banat Bulgarian Dudeştii Vechi, I went to theatre in Giurgiu, travelled in Northern Dobruja and in the zone of the dam “Iron Gates”. I made a live text report on the parliamentary elections in Romania in 2016 in both Bulgarian and Romanian language. The blog opened for me doors towards both the ordinary Romanians and the Romanian elites. I wrote about cultural events and about national and  international politics. In the end of 2017 the blog created a digital book on the Bulgarian-Romanian foreign relations, named

“The Difficult Cooperation: Romania and Bulgaria’s Foreign Policy Exchanges and Infrastructural Projects after a decade in the EU”

Thus, “The Bridge of Friendship” became a fellow, with whom I had the strength and confidence to do the type of journalism I feel as my own. In the meantime after a period, in which I was making a living through writing articles and doing translations, thanks to my experience with the blog I started work as the editor of the Romanian section of the Bulgarian site The Barricade. The Barricade is one of the few Bulgarian cross-border sites. The fact that it exists for four years is a big success for our country and for our journalism. This is difficult to be understood by many people, who consider the left as equal to “old secret services”, “Russia”, “communism/socialism” or just “something stupid”. Every man who knows Romania can understand what it means that a Bulgarian left-wing site operates on the Romanian market and is accepted by the demanding Romanian intellectual left and by the larger circles of the Romanian society. 

If I don’t laud the blog for his achievements and for the dynamics, which he has created, no one would do it. I see the “The Bridge of Friendship” is respected and accepted in spite of “the healthy” doubts of some known and unknown people that maybe there are hidden interests behind it. I was contacted by colleagues from the Bulgarian National Radio and the Bulgarian National Television, who wanted me to support them in their work. I have given articles for free republishing to sites such as Actualno, Economic life, Word, Investor. I was interviewed by Bloomberg TV Bulgaria and the Bulgarian National Radio. I have partnerships with sites such as Arena media (Rousse) and The Urban Magazine (Varna). I have often republished with permission content from the Bulgarian National Radio, but also from many other Bulgarian media such as the newspaper Capital, the Now newspaper, New Times Magazine, etc. 

In Romania the blog is sometimes given as an example for Romanian-language journalism – e.g. its article on the theft of Romanian cars in Bulgaria, when it was the only media that provided statistics for these mythic thefts and used information/answers from the Bulgarian and the Romanian ministries of internal affairs. So far I have written articles for the magazine of the young in Romania Decât o Revistă, for the political magazine Q, for the left-wing site Critic Atac. Articles of the blog have been republished by the cultural magazines Vatra and Poesis. This summer I gave an interview to the magazine of Romanian intellectuals “22” on the Bulgarian protests. In the beginning of 2017 I was interviewed by the Adevărul daily, which was interested to know who I am and what I want to achieve through my blog. 

Today the blog has 130 000 views, 950 articles, 140 subscribers and close to 1000 followers on Facebook. It is one of the few media, which are directed especially towards the Bulgarian-Romanian space. This autumn the blog will publish a digital book for the Bulgarian-Romanian relations in spheres such as diplomacy, infrastructural connections, europrojects, cultural cooperations, history. I hope that this book will be useful to a large number of readers and that it will receive proper media and humane attention.  

This attempt for a recalling of the part attempts to look like a report, but that is not the goal. As I remember some of the blog’s achievements, done before the eyes of all of you – the readers, I find strength to continue. To be a journalist in Bulgaria is not easy. In fact it is devoid of perspective and is depressive. The clever people at my age have long found well-paid corporate jobs and have the personal and family safety, which allows them to judge who is bought by whom and who doesn’t have a clue what he speaks. My “game” continues to be not to walk with the flow. I aim to follow a road of my own with all the disadvantages of this choice. And I fight for survival. 

A part of this fight is my start of a Ph.D. research on Iranian literature. Starting from June 2020 I also created a special blog, dedicated to Bulgaria, Romania and the Persian-language world, which is called “The Persian Bridge of Friendship”. To deal with Iran is even more unpopular that to be a Romanian-speaking journalist in Bulgaria or Bulgarian-speaking journalist in Romania. But at the end the very establishment of a Bulgarian-Romanian blog seemed no less utopian five years ago. The scepticism and doubts of both the public and me were not weaker then…

For the birthday of the blog I will receive in Rousse guests from the community of the Vlach Bulgarians. One of the beautiful things, which the blog does is the establishment of friendships between the people of the two nations. It would be great if we – the common people, realise our civil power and enable a cross-border social movement. The idea for a club of Romanian-speakers or of people interested in Romania in Rousse is one possible step in this direction. The blog reaches out to you – the readers, and is ready to listen and communicate on this and other initiatives for cross-border communication. “The Bridge of Friendship” grows and expands along with the people, who pass along it.

Photo: The Danube bridge at Rousse-Giurgiu (source: Yavor Michev)

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