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Varna - The Black Sea Queen
10.05.2007   bulgarien.dk
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Fountain in the center of the city

Unique combination of natural resources and strategic location has made the city one of the most attractive investment spots in Europe.

It is hard to find someone who has visited Bulgaria’s sea capital and has stayed indifferent to today’s Varna. It is a splendid modern European city, which keeps the fragrance of 26 centuries of history.
The municipal administration has been enforcing an ambitious programme to boost the city’s renewal and prosperity. There is a unique combination of natural resources – beaches, mineral water, luxuriant vegetation, magnificent cultural and historical heritage, and traditions in health, cultural and ecological tourism.
Varna and the neighboring resorts offer plenty of possibilities for complete rest, sport, spa and amusement. More than 260 hotels with more than 80,000 beds are situated on the territory of the municipality.
Two-thirds of the guests are foreigners. The Biggest in number are the German tourists followed by the United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, Sweden, Finland and the Central European countries. The municipality has an impressive economic potential. The leading role is for the tourism. It is no surprise that the sector has a 61 percent share of total net income, followed by industry with 16, transport and communications – 14 and construction – 6.
The good investment climate lead to a rise of economically active persons by 7 percent while the unemployment fell dramatically to 5.26 pct of workforce in 2004 from 11.7 in 2000. At present the city has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The next target is the 4 percent level.

Exclusive interview with the mayor of Varna, Mr. Kiril Yordanov

Kiril Petrov Yordanov is born on June 14th 1956 in Varna. He graduated from the Law Department of the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski in 1982. Until 1991 he was a judge in the Varna District Court. Afterwards he was appointed as Varna governor, In 1997 he was elected in Bulgaria’s parliament. He was appointed as parliament representative in Strasbourg. He run for mayor in 1999 as independent candidate, but gained the support of 27 political parties. He was re-elected in 2003 again as an independent candidate.

Mr. Yordanov, we have witnessed an interesting paradox – the population of Varna rose by 4.6 percent, while the population of the country has decreased by a total of 5.8 percent. How would you comment these numbers?
Varna is an attractive place to live in. We have plenty of career opportunities. Our city is a tourist, economic, cultural, festival and university centre. It is quite clear why the third biggest in territory (205 square km) already ranks second in population. We have 346,000 residents in our municipality. The women are exceeding men by some 10,000. Varna attracts people not only from neighboring regions but from all over the country as well. We have more than 5,000 graduates every year. There are eight universities and colleges in the city with more than 36,000 students. Furthermore there are six research institutes and 75 schools with some 33,000 pupils. Every summer the population triples, which lead to a boost in all sectors, related to tourism.

At the beginning of your second term as mayor you announced the launching of an ambitious programnme to step up economic growth and improve the living standard of the population. Obviously the progress is remarkable. Even now as we speak a TV crew from Brussels is waiting to interview you. Could you outline the advantages of Varna as a place to invest?
The investment volumes increased two and half times over the last four years. This is a fact, which clearly supports the evaluation of the stable economic growth. Varna was the second municipality after Sofia to acquire credit rating B1 by the reputable agency "Moody’s Investors Service”. The rating is similar to the evaluation of several cities from Central and Eastern Europe. All bonds offered by the municipality in 2002 at the stock exchange were sold out in a few hours. This is an important confirmation of our rising popularity and our credibility as a partner.

The interest of foreign investors is rising. Have you managed to forecast that?
Varna has a strategic location with transcontinental importance. In fact the city is already a European regional centre. Therefore the interest on behalf of foreign investors has not surprised us at all. If we take 1999 as a base at 100 - in 2003 the foreign investments posted a 545 percent growth. Some $204 million were invested in the past year alone. We have appointed officials in the municipal administration who work with the Bulgarian Investment Agency to facilitate the activities of investor with first and second class certificates,
Our constant goal is to create the best possible business environment in order to attract investments and secure jobs for the population.

Interview by Petar Marinov

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