We took the shortest route from Cluj-Napoca to Thessaloniki without putting our car on any ships: this route took us towards the (still) new Danube-bridge at Vidin-Calafat.
In a far future this bridge will be in fact part of a highway which comes from Timisoara-Lugoj, crosses the Danube and reaches Sofia. In a far future, we think. But the bridge has every features, it is highwayish, and it even has an electrified railway crossing.
Months ago it was still unimaginable. Today it was a matter of one minute and a half. But building a bridge doesn’t mean the people, economy, cultural relations on the two sides integrate within a short period. It takes a lot more.
This is the situation with Bulgarian-Romanian relations in general. Although from various reasons the two countries are in similar positions, cooperation is still lacking on a lot of fields of activity. Youth could be considered one. Of course, the two nations have very different backgrounds, speak totally different official languages, but in the reality of the 21st century they are pretty much in the same situation.
South-Eastern cooperation should be a much more important topic in the near future. Step by step, accessibility will improve on the roads, and hopefully also on rail and in the air. If there is cooperation among companies and organizations, connections will be improved further. Geographically speaking, distances are not so huge. You reach Sofia almost in the same time you reach Vienna. Or you reach Belgrade from Cluj almost in the same time as Bucharest or Budapest. There are a lot of perspectives.
When crossing the bridge we also realized for example, that border control is very much temporary. This bridge will never be a crossing of a Schengen border, the two countries will enter the Schengen zone in the same moment there is no other plan.
By the way, did you know that Calafat on the Romanian side is actually south of Vidin on the Bulgarian side. The Danube takes a big curve in this area this is why you actually cross the Danube from Romania to Bulgaria northwards.
What we will do in the next few days is to work on improving South-Eastern cooperation in youth field.