BBLF - AMBASSADORS MEETING 2023 - 7th ANNUAL
Business and Government Together Can Make Bulgaria a Good Place to Invest, Work and Live In
More than 50 companies and more than 30 foreign embassies took part in the 7th annual meeting of BBLF with foreign ambassadors titled "Bulgaria in Europe. What’s next?"
Guest speakers were Minister of Finance Assen Vassilev and Spanish Ambassador Alejandro Polanco
If they play on the same team, business and government can turn Bulgaria into a good place to invest, work and live in, it emerged at the traditional discussion of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) with the diplomatic corps. The seventh edition of BBLF's annual meeting with foreign ambassadors took place on 20 June 2023 at Sofia Balkan Palace. The exclusive event once again brought together senior representatives of the responsible business community, the executive branch and diplomats accredited in Sofia. The discussion was mottoed "Bulgaria in Europe. What’s next?"
BBLF has come up with the idea for the event in order to provide a broad platform for all stakeholders to discuss ways of advancing this country’s economic and social development. The event’s diplomatic guest of honour this year was Spanish Ambassador Alejandro Polanco, while Minister of Finance Assen Vassilev represented the executive branch. Ambassadors and senior diplomats of more than 30 countries, as well as senior executives of more than 50 leading companies, BBLF members and partners took part in the meeting and exchanged contacts, ideas and experience. The Bulgarian-Spanish Chamber of Commerce was a partner of this year's event.
The discussion focused on Bulgaria's place in Europe and the world. Levon Hampartzoumian, BBLF Chair, stressed that in the current times of changes and turmoil Bulgaria has a chance to benefit from its strengths and potential.
Maxim Behar, a long-standing member of the BBLF Management Board and CEO of M3 Communications Group, Inc., who moderated the discussion, noted that for 25 years now the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum has encouraged a better business environment to turn Bulgaria into the country where we all want to live and work in.
BBLF traditionally organises the annual meeting with foreign ambassadors in cooperation with a diplomatic partner. This year it was Alejandro Polanco, Ambassador of Spain, the country that will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 July 2023. In his speech, he focused on the main themes that matter for Europe today and tomorrow, such as the open strategic autonomy of the EU, re-industrialisation and sustainability, common foreign policy, social and economic cohesion and the rule of law.
Finance Minister Assen Vassilev made a brief overview of the time since last year's meeting with the BBLF community (he was one of the guest speakers in 2022) and outlined the challenges facing Europe: finding a balance between energy costs and the green agenda, opening up to new, more efficient business models and an immigration policy based on attracting talent. He also noted the big tasks facing society in Bulgaria today: adopting the euro, joining Schengen, updating the education system to prepare the youngest generation with the skills they would need in the next 50 years.
„It is the government’s responsibility to provide the relevant social infrastructure: good education, quality healthcare, transport links, while business in turn can contribute by raising wages. These combined measures will attract and motivate many Bulgarians (who had emigrated) to come back to Bulgaria,“ Minister Vassilev said in response to an enquiry from the business community.
Max Baklayan, CEO of Tavex, Anton Panayotov, Deputy Chair of BBLF and Managing Director of Alaric Securities, Milena Dragijska, Member of the BBLF Board and CEO of Lidl Bulgaria, Vladimir Penkov, Chair and Senior Partner at Penkov, Markov & Partners, and Vesela Ilieva, Member of the BBLF Board and Managing Partner of Unique Estates.
In the discussion part, the diplomatic corps and business leaders talked about specific practical steps that will contribute to this country’s successful economic and social development.
Golden Partners: Tavex, British American Tobacco Bulgaria, Fest Team
Silver Partners: Japan Tobacco International Bulgaria, M3 Communications Group, Lidl Bulgaria, Penkov, Markov & Partners
Bronze partners: Astellas Pharma, Dundee Precious Metals Chelopech
Partners: Unique Estates, Gugushev & Partners, Bulgarian-Spanish Chamber of Commerce