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An important element of Bulgaria’s public diplomacy strategy is its initiatives aimed at the millions of Bulgarian immigrants scattered across the world. Today about 4 million Bulgarians live outside the borders of their country. While Bulgaria has not been able to afford massive public diplomacy campaigns in every region of the globe, the immigrant Bulgarians have become the primary representation of Bulgaria to the rest of the world and an important pillar in Bulgarian public diplomacy.
The Agency for the Bulgarians abroad was founded with a ministerial act in 1992. In 2000 it was transformed into a State Agency for the Bulgarians Abroad, an instrument of the Ministerial Council for communicating with Bulgarians and their communities in foreign countries.
The Agency maintains constant contact with over 600 organizations in Bulgarian communities worldwide. Two of its main priorities are the development of lobbies representing Bulgarian interests abroad and the preservation and popularization of the Bulgarian ethno-cultural and historic heritage. The Agency publishes a cultural magazine every two months and an electronic newspaper “BG in the world�?. It also maintains a “Bulgarian internet school�? and a “BG studies�? web page.
With the help of the Agency many Bulgarians abroad organize initiatives for promoting Bulgarian culture. These projects need information and contacts from professional circles in Bulgaria, and the Agency is responsible for mediating these partnerships. This way the Agency is extending its mission to a so-called “broader version of bulgarianism,�? working for a better image of the country and for its popularization abroad. In 2005 the Agency together with its partner organizations is planning events in 41 countries, spanning every continent.
On the occasion of the Bulgarian Days in the US, for example, at the initiative of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, US cities with the largest Bulgarian communities were the venue of a series of concerts of Bulgarian folk, pop and rock stars. The organizers of the events, however, addressed not only the Bulgarian audience but also took up the ambitions task to promote Bulgaria as a tourist destination among Americans. The Agency is planning to launch an Internet site providing abundant and up-to-date information about Bulgarians residing abroad and their cultural organizations. It will acquaint them as well as foreign readers with the investment climate in the country, the European integration process, and vacationing opportunities in Bulgaria.