- What problems Greek companies faced in Bulgaria during the period in which you chaired the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria?
After the revolution in Bulgaria in 1989 and the subsequent change of the political system in 1990, many Greek investors looked to Bulgaria as a land of opportunity and a good place to invest. This trend gained substantial force during the first decade of the 2000 era, when many people, companies and banks rushed to the country to do business.
The issue however, was that despite the fact that Greek interests amounted to a substantial percentage of the FDIs when coming into the country (some measurements place this number as the 3rd or even 2nd highest in the country at that time), the Greek investors had no unified and organized way to approach the various challenges they were facing. Everybody was trying to operate and solve the various issues they were facing on their own.
Information was not easily accessed and exchanged among the Greek investors. Common experiences were not readily shared. Their individual voices were not important/loud/capable/unified enough to be heard by the various institutions in the country, to allow them to quickly/properly solve their problems or further their cause.
So, a group of us formed the HBCB in an effort to help, initially, the Greek investors to do business in Bulgaria; to help each other and try to promote their business in general and among its members as well. But, at a later stage, to help Bulgarian companies do business with the Greeks and to also find a way to foster the good relations between the two countries and promote the bilateral goodwill.
- What challenges the Council and you, as its Chairman, have encountered during your term at the office?
The biggest challenges we faced were those that a new aspiring organization normally would face. How to set up ourselves, in a manner that the HBCB could become a serious, useful, relevant and noteworthy organization that interested parties would want to become members of; that they would see the value of joining and actively participating in its affairs and activities; while, concurrently, HBCB to be viewed as a credible counter-party to various other institutions (be it government or other business organizations or other countries business chambers), to be able to engage in conversations, to express our members views, exchange information, promote our interests, doing good for both Greece and Bulgaria.
- What is your message to members of the Council today?
I am as proud today of HBCB, as I was when we were initially setting it up. The work that has been done up to now, by all involved, has been outstanding! A big “congratulations” to all!
Please keep up the effort of promoting the Greek business interests in Bulgaria, especially now that most countries are facing a number of challenges and specifically our two countries. Help the HBCB increase its members. Help the members with their issues. Help our Bulgarian friends to potentially solve issues they may be facing with Greece or Greek investors.
In general, foster the good relations between our Greek and Bulgarian members and the various business partners. Help the two countries move forward together in peace. Together we can do more! We are too small to be “fighting” alone.
And of course, above all, represent the Greek business community with honor and dignity to help them be the best ambassadors of Greece in Bulgaria.
Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to voice my view.
I miss you all.
Good luck to all, in good health and prosperity.