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Address delivered during FORUM III

by Prof. Christo Balarew
Vice Minister of Education and Science
Ministry of Education and Science

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Bulgaria highly appreciates the significance of this Conference because at the end of the passing century it poses the task of outlining the new perspectives for science, as it is the major instrument for the development of society. UNESCO is an organisation with a leading intellectual and ethical role in the world. Just because of this, our country, by its structures, strives to widen more and more its participation in UNESCO’s programmes. The Organisation has high prestige among Bulgarian society, in the educational, scientific and cultural spheres.

Bulgaria is a member of many intergovernmental committees of UNESCO programmes (International Programme of Management of Social Transformations, International Bureau on Education, International Programme on Informatics, General Information Programme, International Programme for Development of Communications, etc.)

Bulgaria is an initiator of a range of European regional and sub-regional forums of UNESCO like the European conference on Philosophy and Democracy (1996), European Seminar on Civic Education (1996), European seminar on Plural and Independent Massmedia (1997), which was attended by UNESCO’s Director-General Mr Federico Mayor, International meeting on the establishment of a cultural management departments network (1998), International Seminar on Management of Cultural Tourism (1998), etc. In November 1998 the first regional meeting of the Central and Eastern European countries on the UNESCO programme ‘Reading for all’ was carried out in Sofia. Organised by the National commission of Bulgaria this forum has been opened by the Bulgarian Minister of Culture Mrs Emma Moskova. Representatives of European countries, experts from different governmental and non-governmental institutions participated in it as well as the UNESCO Secretariat representative, Mr. Toufic. Bulgaria is very grateful to the UNESCO Secretariat and personally to the Director-General for choosing Sofia to be a host of the First Regional Meeting in Europe on this initiative. The purpose of it was to exchange experiences on the development of programmes supporting national book policies and their international integration. The successful implementation of the national programme will ensure the preconditions for Bulgaria to become a European Centre for regional cooperation in the performance of the UNESCO programme ‘Reading for All’.

A permanent regional UNESCO Centre for training young scientists is functioning in the town of Sozopol. Several summer schools in the field of education, energy, phyto-chemistry, etc. have been carried out. Our country is a sub-regional UNESCO centre in the field of civil education, phyto-chemistry, teaching chemistry, etc. A network of UNESCO departments is functioning at five Bulgarian universities.

Bulgaria is in a process of active preparation for hosting the Pan-European Conference on Solar Energy. We are confident that this forum will give impetus not only to scientific research but also to the practical use of alternative energy resources. Realising the particular significance of the Pan-European Conference on Solar Energy organised by UNESCO we address a tender to the European Commission for financial support in organising and conducting this Conference.

Bulgaria highly appreciates the engagement of UNESCO to solving the new arising problems facing humanity. The so-called Information Pathways are particularly significant. The support of UNESCO for the inclusion of Bulgarian scientific, cultural and educational institutions in the world mainstream in this field (Internet and other specialised networks) would have important positive consequences for Bulgaria.

Very significant for us is the Agreement between UNESCO and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Within the framework of this Agreement the Bulgarian scientists have presented projects important for the sub-region, as for example: ‘Use of atomic spectroscopy for surfaces studies’ and ‘Hydrological project for studying the water pathways of south-east Europe’. The support of UNESCO for these projects will be of crucial importance.

It is not possible to omit the fruitful cooperation of Bulgaria with the UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Technology in Europe (UVO - ROSTE) located in Venice, Italy. Our country expresses its gratitude for the significant assistance which ROSTE renders us.

In its vision of the future development of science, research and technology, Bulgaria formulates its priorities in consonance with those of UNESCO. The most important of them can be described as follows:

  • Participation in regional and sub-regional infrastructure projects:
  • Transport corridors including building of second and third bridges over the Danube river;
  • Energy transportation: establishment of a gas-transmitting pipeline; energy transport through Black Sea;
  • Integrated energy system including nuclear energy, alternative energy resources;
  • Ecological problems including cleaning the Black Sea.
  • Science in favour of small and Medium-sized enterprises (SME):
  • Project development by scientific organisations in consortia with SME;
  • Utilisation of natural resources.
  • Science and Social policy:
  • Scientific research to improve the level of competence in fields important for our society;
  • Improvement of working conditions for Bulgarian scientists;
  • Development of cooperation networks;
  • Transborder exchange of information and work in international teams at a distance (teleworking).

The Bulgarian system for management of scientific and technological development is clearly structured at an operational level and strives to cover all fields of the national economy. The strategy of the National Council of Scientific and Technology policy is performed by the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) and by the other Ministries (industry, agriculture, health, etc.). Two of the main activities developed by MES: in the direction of Science and in the direction of Research for Technological Development. Through these two activities the MES carries into effect relationships with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, with the universities, the Agricultural Academy of Science as well as with other applied research institutes. Through their research centres, institutes and laboratories, these institutions develop scientific products designed to serve industry and SME.

It is clearer today that most of the major problems are common to all of the Central and Eastern European countries. That is why our countries should consolidate the efforts of the scientific potential in solving together these problems. Thus, Bulgaria already announced a suggestion for setting up in the country an Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) as a structural branch of IPTS-Seville to the European Union (EU) Joint Research Centre. It would have double regional importance: on the one hand, it will handle the countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the EU, and on the other hand it will be oriented toward tackling the regional problems of the countries from the zone of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. The main tasks would be: scientific assurance and support to the governments of the countries from the region in taking correct and science-based political decisions on the development of big regional projects linked for instance to the establishment of a gas-transmitting pipeline; transport corridors including building of second and third bridges over the Danube river and energy transport over the Black Sea; integrated power system; ecological problems, etc.

At the end please, allow me to express my deep confidence that during the coming century UNESCO will still continue to play a crucial role in the world of science, culture and education. I believe also that the mutual cooperation between all of us will change into a reality the splendid idea for our universal home – our Planet.


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