Accompanying Note on Indian-Bulgarian Relations
by Jordan Baev
I. Brief chronological information
After short preliminary negotiations in Moscow in mid-1954, diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and India were established in December 1954. The first Bulgarian diplomatic mission (Legation) in New Delhi opened in April 1955 and was re-organized into an embassy in March 1961. From July 1955 until April 1970 the Indian diplomatic representatives accredited to Bulgarian government were located in Belgrade and Bucharest; in May 1970 an Indian embassy opened in Sofia. The first visit of an Indian prime minister (Indira Gandhi) to Bulgaria was in October 1967, and the first visit of a Bulgarian prime minister (Todor Zhivkov) to India happened in January 1969. The first bilateral protocol for trade exchange was signed in New Delhi on 16 September 1956. On 2 May 1967 the first agreement for economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Bulgaria and India was signed in Sofia. In November 1973 a Joint Commission for Economic, Scientific & Technical Cooperation (with sub-branches for machine-building, electronics, agriculture, chemistry, defense industry, food industry, etc.) was established. The first cultural agreement between the two countries was signed in 1975.
II. Bibliography & archival sources
At present, Bulgarian historiography on Indian-Bulgarian relations is very scanty. It is comprised rather of memoirs than of research or documentary publications. In his memoirs, Todor Zhivkov devoted a very special place to his talks with and impressions of Indira Gandhi . The former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Petar Mladenov also concentrated his story on the figure of Indira Gandhi . A decade ago, one of the first Bulgarian ambassadors to India, Lyubomir Popov (1958–1964), published his own notes on Indian–Bulgarian relations .
Emil Alexandrov, a former deputy minister of culture and a close associate to Lyudmila Zhivkova, daughter of the Bulgarian president and herself a minister of culture from 1975 until her sudden death in 1981, tried to reveal some unknown episodes of Zhivkova’s association by Indian philosophy (Agni Yoga, for instance), and her personal relations with Indira Gandhi and her sons Sanjay and Rajiv. Alexandrov also discussed the controversial issue of the Kremlin’s “Marxist orthodox circles’” hostility and suspicions toward Lyudmila Zhivkova’s passion for Indian culture and philosophy . In 1997, the Center for Eastern Languages and Cultures at Sofia University published a special volume on Indian–Bulgarian relations, entitled India and Bulgarian Science .
The basic archival documents on Indian–Bulgarian relations can be found in both Bulgarian political and diplomatic records. Of special interest are the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party (CC BCP) Politburo files and the documentation of the CC BCP Foreign Policy and International Relations (FPIR) Department, held since 1993 at the Central State Archive (Tsentralen Darzhaven Arhiv) in Sofia [TsDA, Fond 1-B, Records 6, 33, 36, 51, 60, 66–68]. Unfortunately, a large part of FPIR Department documentation covering the period 1968-1989 has not yet been fully processed. Some documents and information on India can be found as well at Todor Zhivkov’s Personal Records [TsDA, Fond 378-B]. The Political Records at the Diplomatic Archive (DA) of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes about 100 files on India and the bilateral relations between the two countries for the period 1965–1977 (almost 2,000 pages in total). According to the actual regulations (Article 34 of Classified Information Protection Act of 2002), these kind of documents are available within a 30 years’ term; thus, the declassified diplomatic papers that have been released are from the period up to 1978.