SPEECHES AND STATEMENTS
Statement Made by Head of State Rosen Plevneliev on the Occasion of Bulgaria’s National Day 3rd March
Esteemed Mrs. Speaker of the National Assembly,
Esteemed Mr. Prime Minister,
Esteemed Mrs. Mayor,
Esteemed Ministers and Assembly Deputies,
There are dates and events in Bulgaria’s historical calendar which radically change our people’s road. After 500 years of oppression and lawlessness within the Ottoman Empire, on 3 March 1878 Bulgaria’s statehood was restored and the country reemerged on the map of Europe.
We, as free Bulgarians, not only commemorate the successful end of the Russo-Turkish liberation war. Today we pay tribute to the heroism and self-sacrifice of the whole myriad of nationalities that contributed to securing Bulgaria’s liberation. We bow our heads with gratitude to the self-sacrifice of the thousands of Russians, Finns, Romanians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Georgians, Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Serbians and Montenegrins, who took part in the war. We also take pride in recalling the thousands of our predecessors from the Bulgarian army of volunteers, who by accomplishing their feat showed the world that after 500 years of foreign rule, Bulgarians deserved to achieve their national freedom. We also commemorate the deeds of generations of those who took part in the Bulgarian National Revival and the revolutionaries, who dedicated their lives to the cultural rise and political advancement of our homeland.
The Russo-Turkish war was the ultimate outcome of our predecessors’ centuries-old struggle. Bulgaria was not granted its national freedom in 1878. The first guns of Bulgaria’s national liberation war were fired back in 1876, when the April uprising broke out. In “Under the Yoke”, the patriarch of Bulgarian literature Ivan Vazov wrote about “the long chain of forerunners-sowers” in the field of Bulgaria’s revival. It was thanks to their deed that the Bulgarian people showed their resolve during the decisive days of its liberation. The builders of contemporary Bulgaria continued their predecessors’ deeds and with self-confidence, fervor and commitment dedicated their lives to establishing an independent, modern and proud European Bulgaria, which Botev and Levski dreamed of.
Our predecessors were ready to pay a high price to make their dream come true and establish the Bulgarian state. Thousands of volunteers fought to the very last minute and defended the light of freedom. Let us recall the words of the contemporaries, those who witnessed the feat of our predecessors, and let them speak instead of us: “They are coming in crowds…hungry, dressed in tatters, a lot of them crippled martyrs and their first word, their first plea was not for bread, but for weapons.”
There have been and there will be crises. It is through humanism, the rule of law and shared values that we can cope with them. Today no single people and state can deal with the global crises and challenges on their own.
Almost 140 years ago the Bulgarians also enjoyed a broad international support for their struggle. Therefore we, for our part, cannot remain silent when other peoples fall victim to aggression. We should not turn a blind eye to any political attempt to impose national egoism over solidarity and common solutions. A lot of things depend on our honest position, on each citizen’s vigilance. It is the courageous and consistent people that build the future. It is the unlearned lessons of history that we build the future on. And they include the lessons that peace can be guaranteed only when human rights and freedoms and the principles of the international legal order apply to all. Peace is achieved only though integration and cooperation between the peoples.
This is the only way that, as free and proud people, we will preserve our predecessors’ great ambition in the 21st century and will teach our children that Bulgarians are people with dignity and a high self-esteem.
And let us all on the day of Bulgarian freedom say out loud, from the bottom of our hearts:
Long Live Bulgaria!