The authorities responsible for realising intercultural dialogue activities are: the Ministry of Culture, the NCCEDI and non-governmental organisations.
Intercultural dialogue is the topic of the Draft Strategy for the Development of Bulgarian Culture 2019-2029. Dialogue between external and internal communities is the focus of priorities in the fields of cultural heritage, visual and performing arts, intercultural cooperation and others. The document emphasises that cultural differences are a factor for sustainable development and an example of cultural maturity. In this regard, it is a priority to stimulate communication with EU countries but also with other European countries, with an emphasis on cooperation in the SEE region, in particular the Western Balkans. The aim is to continue contacts with China, Japan, Russia, the United States and others. Last but not least, cooperation between cultural and artistic professionals is supported in the draft strategy.
In Bulgaria, the National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCCEDI), under the aegis of the Council of Ministers, is the main national level institution which is responsible for coordinating policies related to intercultural dialogue. It facilitates cooperation between state bodies and NGOs of different minority groups and considers policy proposals submitted by other Ministry departments. Following approval by the Council of Ministers, the NCCEDI monitors, analyses and coordinates measures aimed to:
• guarantee human rights;
• preserve and strengthen tolerance and understanding; and
• create conditions that ethnic minorities in Bulgaria need to sustain and develop their culture, as well as to preserve the most important elements of their identity: religion, language, traditions and cultural heritage.
Regional Councils on ethnic and demographic issues are being created within the administrative structures of district governments. They are responsible for implementing nationally approved measures in their relevant district/region, as well as for developing relevant regional strategies and programmes.
The NCCEDI receives annual funding, from the Council of Minister’s budget, to support organisations of ethnic minority groups and their activities. The following types of projects are eligible for funding:
• cultural events such as arts festivals, exhibitions (fine arts, applied arts and crafts);
• artistic groups and their activities such as theatres, choirs, dance performances, art schools, etc.;
• celebrations of historical and traditional holidays;
• organisation of seminars and conferences;
• educational projects;
• extra-curricular education programmes for children and students;
• printing and distribution of poetry, collections of folk tales, songs, proverbs; and
• audio and video productions.
In addition, the Centre for Educational Integration of Children and Pupils from Ethnic Minorities (CEIDUEM) was established in Bulgaria by Decree 4 of the Council of Ministers on 11 January 2005. There is also a Strategy for the Educational Integration of Children and Pupils from Ethnic Minorities (2015-2020) (see chapter 2.5.2 for more information).
The operational goals of the National Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria for Roma Integration (2012-2020) include the coverage and retention of Roma children and pupils in the educational system, the provision of quality education in a multicultural educational environment. In addition, the objectives include:
• preserving and promoting the traditional Roma culture;
• the development of amateur art among the Roma as premisie for professional development and realisation; and
• the stimulation of the Roma community for active participation in public cultural life.
Hanns Seidel Foundation is engaged in promoting cross-border cooperation in the Balkan countries and strengthening cultural relations with the German-speaking area with academies and seminars.
In general, young people are a priority for organisations engaged in intercultural dialogue in the country.
One of the NGOs in this sector is the Centre for International Youth Activity in Bulgaria (IYAC Bulgaria). It engages young people in local, national and international initiatives in the fields of culture, sport, volunteering and non-formal education, promoting youth exchange.
The National Youth Forum is the largest youth platform in Bulgaria, bringing together fifty youth organisations from all over the country. It is committed to the active participation of young people in intercultural dialogue, both at national and European level.
The Erasmus Student Network (ESN Bulgaria) represents non-profit student associations whose main goal is to provide support to exchange students in different universities in Bulgaria. The organisation strongly encourages intercultural dialogue.