ROBULNA research

Project BRAINS explores findings of two research questions. These questions are formulated on the basis of our understanding of identity as crucial for the commitment of stakeholders and citizens to the Romanian-Bulgarian cross-border region. We perceive identity as a process of renegotiation of “our” values, truths and interests versus the values, truths and interests of “others”, therefore as socially constructed.
The first research question refers to the potential for construction of integrated political, socio-economic and cultural identity of relevant social groups, who belong to the border-free Romanian-Bulgarian regional territory. We explore attitudes related to association with neighbours of different nationality as a precondition for cooperative practices and trust. At the same time, we are interested in attitudes regarding differentiation from actors of own nationality, who impede constructive cross-border interactions. It is from these associations and differentiations that the cross-border identity could emerge. This new identity could catalyze proactive efforts for the development of the Romanian-Bulgarian cross-border region.
The second research question is related to the identity of the territory of the Romanian-Bulgarian cross-border region.
Self-identification with a region is dependent on the prestige of the regional profile, on the visibility of its uniqueness and salience. Regional strengths are driving forces for involvement and cooperative interaction. But they need to be displayed. They have to be socially constructed, i.e. to be communicated and agreed upon.
In this regard, project BRAINS addresses diverse regional actors and groups in an attempt to produce a common self-portrayal of the most important regional characteristics. Such a discussion can be perceived as an initiative for the branding of the Romanian-Bulgarian cross-border region. Our starting point is its conceptualization as RO-BUL-NA (Romanian-Bulgarian Neighbourhood Area) in English; БРОД (Българо-румънски области за добросъседство) in Bulgarian, and BRAV (Bulgaria-România: Arie de Vecinătate) in Romanian.
Therefore, opinions of a large number of participants, who are ready to take part in the discussion, are highly appreciated. We organize focus group sessions as well, to assure more arguments and critical points of view. The comparative method is also useful. German BRIE partners investigate the situation in the German-Polish and the German-Czech cross-border regions in order to provide experience and evidence of good practices.
The applied added value of the research is the development of a Green Book of a Policy on Romanian-Bulgarian Cross-Border Identity. It includes Integrated Identity Model of RO-BUL-NA and Recommendations for the Branding of the Romanian-Bulgarian Cross-Border Region.