Plovdiv hosted the 3rd working meeting of the CEEC-China Association of Provincial Governors

The 3rd working meeting of the China-CEEC Association of Provincial Governors within the Cooperation between China and the countries of CEE (16+1 Initiative) was unveiled today (19 October) at Grand Hotel Plovdiv. The prestigious international event was held under the auspices of the Governor of Plovdiv Region, Mr. Zdravko Dimitrov.

The 16 + 1 Format is an initiative of the Government of the People’s Republic of China aimed at strengthening and expanding cooperation between China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), as well as at developing mutually beneficial partnerships in the areas of investment, trade, transport, finance, science, education, culture, tourism, research, health, agriculture.

Today’s 3rd Working Meeting is the first of the meetings of the Provincial Governors, under the 16 + 1 Initiative, which takes place in Europe, namely in the city of Plovdiv, with the kind hospitality of the Regional Governor Zdravko Dimitrov. The previous two working meetings was held on May 18, 2015 in Langfang, China’s Hebei Province, and on June 16, 2016 in Tangshan, China’s Hebei Province.

The meeting was attended by delegates from many provinces of Czech Republic, Slovenia, Montenegro, Romania, Latvia, Estonia and Hungary and seven provinces from China, Ambassadors and Heads of Diplomatic Missions, Mr. Georg Georgiev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mrs. Amelia Gesheva, Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr. Milko Teofilov, Deputy Minister of Tourism, the adviser to the Minister of Economy, Mr. Ivan Totev, Mayor of Plovdiv Municipality, H. E. Mr. Zhang Haizhou, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. YE Changqing, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Hebei Province, regional governors, rectors of Plovdiv universities, business representatives from Plovdiv region, Trakia Economic Zone, Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and CEE Countries (APACCEEC) and NGOs.

The event was moderated by Mr. Krustyo Belev, Chief representative of the Bulgarian Chinese Business Development Association, Beijing, P. R. China

The forum was opened by Mr. Zdravko Dimitrov, Regional Governor of Plovdiv Region. In his address, he said „It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to the 3rd Working meeting of the China-CEEC Association of Provincial Governors within the Cooperation between China and the countries of CEE (16+1 Initiative) in Plovdiv – the oldest town on the Silk Road.

The 16 + 1 initiative is a creative undertaking launched by the People’s Republic of China and the Central and Eastern European countries for support and cooperation. It is also an indispensable part of the cooperation between China and Europe and contributes to the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the European Union.
Thanks to our joint efforts over the last five years, the Formula 16 + 1 has proven to be successful in its application to all sectoral policies. This is confirmed by the annual high-level forums between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the enhanced political mutual trust and the significant progress in our cooperation. Although the China-CEEC Association of Provincial Governors is the youngest format under the 16+1, we can clearly state that our intentions to build a working model of partnership with openness, inclusion and profitable results, are evident.

It is a great honor for Bulgaria that, within the framework of the 16 + 1 Initiative, a Center for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation has been opened in Sofia, in June 2015. Through the Center’s unified database, 17 countries exchange information on business co-operation and find partners in the area of production, trade and financing. We are proud that, after signing a joint declaration for the establishment of a Modern Agricultural Demonstration Park in May 2017, the pilot project was launched in Plovdiv Region by the Center for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and the CEEC together with the Agrarian University of Plovdiv.

For years, the China’s Tianjin State Farms Agribusiness Company, which made its first investment in the European Union in Bulgaria, has been successfully working in Plovdiv region. Food, wine, beverages and robots produced in Plovdiv region are successfully exported to the 16 + 1 Format member countries and are showcased at the pavilions for Bulgarian goods in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Hangzhou, Beijing, Guangzhou and at the international agricultural exhibitions held in the 16 countries from Central and Eastern Europe. It will be an honor for Plovdiv Region to host one of the next 16 + 1 agro-trade and economic cooperation forums.

Plovdiv and Bulgaria rely on the building of a railway line along the Silk Road. Plovdiv expects to find the best investor for the reconstruction of Plovdiv Airport, which has the potential to work with its full capacity.

In recent years, academic exchange has also been increased with a significant number of universities from our provinces joining the China-CEECs Higher Education Institutions Consortium.
For just over 20 years Bulgaria’s large-scale project „Trakia Economic Zone“, located on the territory of Plovdiv Region, has attracted serious investments and foreign partners and Plovdiv has become a symbol of successful cooperation under the Initiative 16+1. By the end of 2017 the first 16 + 1 eCommerce Logistics Hub and Pavilion for agricultural and other products will be opened in Trakia Economic Zone.

Surely the most accessible route to international exchange is the culture, and tourism is its natural extension. Plovdiv – the oldest city in Europe – was officially named European Capital of Culture in 2019. Our city awaits its guests and partners to draw together regions and connect cultural heritage and present.

Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2018 is another possibility the international cooperation in a format as 16 + 1 Initiative to be seen as an opportunity for future development and our experience could be a contribution to world economic recovery and stability, which will be useful not only for our countries but also for the whole of the European Union.

The world we live in is facing multiple global challenges. At the same time, our common interests are conditioned by the need for cooperation and common approaches to progress.
Working together to expand and improve 16 + 1 cooperation will not only bring more benefits to people but will also contribute to world peace and development.

It is said that the greatness of human deeds is measured by the motives which have engendered them.

Let this meeting of the 16 + 1 Initiative be an example of this.

I wish all of you a productive meeting and fruitful contacts!“

Mr. Georg Georgiev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivan Totev, Mayor of Plovdiv, H. E. Mr. Zhang Haizhou, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria, and Mr. YE Changqing, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Hebei Province, also delivered welcome remarks to the guests.

The Forum’s one-day programme included three discussion panels: Culture and Tourism, Innovation and Economic Zones and Agriculture. The first pdnel was moderated by Mrs. Dobrina Cheshmedzhieva from Bulgarian National Television. Welcoming speches were given by Mr. Milko Teofilov, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Republic of Bulgaria and Mr. ZHANG Zhengfeng, Deputy Secretary of the General Office of Gansu People’s Government.
Presentations were made by representatives of Municipal Foundation „Plovdiv 2019“, Municipal Enterprise for Tourism – Plovdiv, Czech-China Chamber of Collaboration, Henan Provincial People’s Government, Shandong Provincial People’s Government.

Mr. Lyubomir Ganchev, Advisor to the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Bulgaria, and Mrs. Bian Yanzhen, Deputy Director of the Division of Overseas Investment and Economic Cooperation of the Commerce Department of Hebei Province, delivered welcome remarks to the participants in the second panel „Innovation and Economic Zones“.

Presentations were made by representatives of China-CEEC Association of Governors of Provinces and Regions, Trakia Economic Zone – Plovdiv, Ialomita County Council, Romania, Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Hradec Králové Region, Czech Republic, Tianjin Municipaly, PRC and ORAK Group – Plovdiv.

During the panel „Agriculture“, moderated by Mr. Vassil Gelev, Head of Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and CEE Countries 16+1 (APACCEEC), presentations were made by the representatives of Agricultural University – Plovdiv, APACCEEC, National Council of Republic of Slovenia and Regional Academic Center – Smolyan of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

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