140 years Bulgarian-Russian Diplomatic Relations

Mr. Ambassador, this year we celebrate 140 years since the establishment
of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Russia. From the perspective of this historical journey and the vicissitudes of time how would you describe our relations during this period? Which historical moments and figures that contributed significantly to the development of our bilateral relations? This is a very interesting and intense period in our bilateral relations. There have been both ups and downs, as well as many turnovers. These years have been really interesting. Of the historians with the greatest contribution, I would point out first of all the Tsar Liberator, Alexander II Nikolayevich. He takes decisive action for the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. One must not miss the well-known Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev, who signs the San Stefano Peace Treaty. We are pleased with the development of our bilateral relations and we are happy to celebrate this memorable anniversary with you. How would you describe the current state of our bilateral relations? Where we could still see unused potential for their deepening? We are very satisfied with the nature and dynamics
in the development of our cooperation. For the past year and half, President Radev and Prime Minister Borissov both visited Russia. On the occasion of the celebration of the 140th anniversary of the Liberation of Bulgaria, our Patriarch Kirill came here. The first half of this year is also very successful so far. In March our Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was on a visit here. In June, President Radev was an honorary guest of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. There he met with President Putin and participated in plenary debates. The visit of the President of the National Assembly, Tsveta Karayancheva, to Moscow is now ending. She had meetings with Minister Lavrov and the presidents of the two houses of Parliament. She is expected to address the plenary session of the Federation Council, which is a great honor for both the Russian Parliament and Ms. Karayancheva. This is another important stage in the development of our bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation. In the second half of the year I expect a new dynamic in our cooperation. There is an invitation from Minister Lavrov to your Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva to visit Russia this autumn. I understand that a decision has already been taken on this issue. The period remains to be coordinated. There is a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation in September We are happy and satisfied with the development of our relations. It is very important that all these visits lead to some concrete results. As far as tourism is concerned, it is developing well,
but there are always opportunities for more. Last year, there were 512 000 Russian tourists in Bulgaria. Bulgarian tourists in Russia are less – 56 000. Now the task ahead of us is the creation of a ferry connection between Bulgaria and Russia and, more specifically, between Burgas and Novorossiysk. This is a serious topic and let’s hope it will happen with God’s help. This was all on tourism, and now on the cultural side. The performances of famous Russian artists in Bulgaria have become more frequent. In April, Grigory Leps, our very popular singer, held a concert in the Armeets Arena. And I was there too – not on the stage, but as a viewer. In June our famous singer Philipp Kirkorov was on a tour here, who became Honorary Citizen of Varna last year. The Kuban Cossack Chorus also had several very successful performances in 5 Bulgarian cities. There is a very positive process. I recently visited the opening of the Khan Kubrat Sword exhibition at the National Art Gallery. During the Hermitage Days in Bulgaria the exhibition was also visited by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov At this important event, he came along with the UNESCO Director-General. That’s why I think if we go along this road,
we will have a very good perspective. In the sphere of education, we see the interest of
Bulgarian students in training in Russia. We have many inquiries about education in our universities, which we can only welcome. We also maintain sports contacts.
I can name many more areas of cooperation. All mentioned characterizes our relations as progressive, evolving. And we can really feel that. For me this is of fundamental importance. I work in Bulgaria and I want our cooperation to be more and more intense. We can describe our relationship as “brotherly friendship”. Whatever some may say, we are brother nations. We share the same Orthodox faith, our culture and our languages are close. We have received the Cyrillic alphabet from you. Even my son is called Kiril,
which demonstrates how close we are to you. I am happy with our bilateral cooperation in all areas and I hope it will continue in the same way in the future. Your Excellency, you have been on a diplomatic mission in different parts of the world, and since 2016 you represent your country in Bulgaria. What were your expectations about our lifestyle, traditions and mentality before your posting to Bulgaria. Did they change after your arrival here? I had never come to Bulgaria before. My appointment as an ambassador
was my first meeting with your wonderful country. When I was appointed ambassador, I had to appear before various committees on international affairs in our parliament. When they realized that I had never been to Bulgaria, they were all amazed. But our cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova said: “What does it matter that he has not been in Bulgaria? This means he will go there
without prejudice and will start with a clean slate!” So I did. On 7th October I arrived in Bulgaria and on 15th October I left for the Troyan Monastery. 15th October is the birthday of Patriarch Neofit. I arrived there, presented myself to him, asked him for a blessing, and received it. You see the result – I have been working successfully for 2 years and 8 months in Bulgaria. For me everything was a whole new, true revelation. But as comfortably as I work in Bulgaria, with Bulgarian people, I have not worked before. I have held senior positions in different countries, but I have rarely encountered such a spiritual attitude and respect for Russia. That is why I thank you most cordially.
Bulgaria has revealed to me its most lovely side. I am happy to be in Bulgaria. I love the Bulgarian people very much and I know that Bulgarians love Russia as we love Bulgaria. Bulgarian society highly values your country’s contribution to science, culture and education in Europe and the world. Russia is an integral part of European cult ure and civilization with the depth and breadth of its spiritual development. What we still do not know in Bulgaria about your vast country? What are the opportunities and challenges for us? Unfortunately, sometimes we look at each other through the stereotypes of the past, and we are already in the 21st century. Times are changing, new processes are running. I see an obvious problem. We need to strengthen the information presence of Bulgaria in Russia and Russia – in Bulgaria. Information provided by TV in both countries is not enough. It is very important that such interviews and meetings are more frequent so people can learn firsthand how we live, how you live. Thus, we will understand each other better. I consider this a matter over which we must work in collaboration. Lastly, allow me to ask you one personal question. What are your passions and interests outside your diplomatic work? Where you get spiritual and intellectual inspiration from? My inspiration comes from the country and the people I work with. I really enjoy travelling around your wonderful country. I have visited a lot of places. I know that people sometimes call me “an ambassador of the people” and I enjoy it. The more I get to know your country, the more I admire the beauty of your nature. I admire the beautiful environment in which the Bulgarian people live. What inspires me the most is the communication with Bulgaria and its people. In this, I find the purpose of my service. Your Excellency, thank you for this conversation. It was a pleasure! Looking forward to meeting you again!
Thank you once again. Have a nice day and goodbye!

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