The Club quickly gained prominence among Bulgarians and others interested in Bulgaria in the City of London. It got involved in various social, charity, and other initiatives related to Bulgaria. From its inception the Club put a great emphasis on networking among professionals, business people and others interested in Bulgaria. The Club established links with other East European social groups in the City and even helped some with setting up. It also gave the impetus for the creation of similar organisations of Bulgarians in Western Europe and the US. Some of the Club’s members became active in the “Bulgarian Velikden” initiative of the Bulgarian Government at the time, and conducted dialogue with the Government on economic and investment issues in Bulgaria. A few Club members went on to become members of the subsequent government or taken other high-profile posts in Bulgaria.
This brought to the fore the issue of the Club’s attitude towards politics and individual political formations in Bulgaria. On one hand the Club was understandably proud that some of its members took high positions in the Bulgarian administration. On the other hand, justly or not, the Club acquired an image as politicised.
Another issue, which came to the fore around that time was the Club’s internal governance procedures. It was felt by many that the transparent and accountable running of the Club, in accordance with the Club’s Rules, was essential in keeping the trust of its members.
In 2003 an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) discussed these issues in a constructive and balanced way, which led to a broad consensus that gave new momentum in the Club’s activities and helped it to move forward. The EGM emphasised the political neutrality and the commitment to transparent running of the Club. The Club’s President, Prince Kyril, gave his full support.
In the period since then the Club and its General Committee have demonstrated in practice their commitment to these principles. While strictly politically neutral, the Club is nevertheless proud to have served as a forum for political debate on the current issues in, and future direction of Bulgaria. The Club or its Committee have had meetings with many Bulgarian politicians visiting London (the President, Prime Minister, other Government Ministers, the Mayor of Sofia and others). The transparent and inclusive nature of the Club encourages any member or friend to come forward with ideas and initiatives and benefit from the Club’s social and networking opportunities.
The Club continues to be very active in organising numerous social events for its members and guests – charity balls, exhibitions, dance parties and others. Fellowships and friendships develop if members are in regular contact so the Club maintains and cherishes the tradition of having regular monthly meetings.
Although not a registered charity itself, the Club has also been very active in promoting and actively supporting various cultural and charitable initiatives. These have included the London Film Festival, various concerts and exhibitions, the Roman Bath play at the Arcola Theatre as well as working for the improvement of the psychological and financial well-being of children (deprived of parental care) from institutions in Bulgaria. In pursuing these initiatives the Club has managed to develop good collaboration with the Bulgarian Embassy in London and a number of charitable, NGO and GO from Bulgaria and the UK.
The Club is very active in developing contacts with similar Clubs in London, representing professionals from other countries in the Emerging European Markets region. Many joint events have been held with such Clubs, and their success has led to the creation of a more formal framework for cooperation: the City Clubs United initiative. Currently, together with the Bulgarian City Club, there are seven other Clubs participating in the initiative: the Polish, Lithuanian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, Georgian, Turkish and Romanian Clubs.
The Club is also very active in maintaining contacts with like-minded Bulgarian Clubs and individuals in other countries and cities: Paris, Moscow, New York, Geneva, Singapore and others, including, it goes without saying, Sofia. In the fourteenth year since its creation the Bulgarian City Club can be justly proud to be an important factor in promoting Bulgaria’s image in the UK and to be a favourite gathering place for many friends, Bulgarian and other, working in the world’s foremost financial centre. The Club has evolved since its inception, however its goals and role are as relevant as ever.