The event, held on January 27th at the historic Lancaster House brought together diplomats, representatives of Her Majesty’s government and the Houses of Parliament, as well as Bulgarians and friends of our country. A number of them were awarded with honorary certificates issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their contribution to the strengthening of bilateral relations and to popularizing Bulgarian culture in the UK.
The guests were able to learn more about the development of the bilateral relations throughout the years in an exhibition put together by the British Embassy in Sofia and to see the Balkans through the eyes of women-travelers (18-20 c.), an exhibition created by the Diplomatic Institute with the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UK National Archives showcased original maps and documents connected to the history of Bulgaria and its relations with Great Britain.
In his opening speech , the Bulgarian Ambassador Marin Raykov mentioned:
‘The UK has always been a key player in the geo-political equation in Southeastern Europe. We haven’t always been on the same side of that equation. But the last 30 of the 140 years since we established our diplomatic relations have been a time of constant strengthening and deepening of our partnership.
Bulgarians will be eternally grateful to Prime Minister William E. Gladstone for the support extended to our people during the National Revolution and the massive uprising of 1876, for his support for the Unification Act of 1885, and later for our movement in Macedonia.
Regardless of the mutual fondness, the world wars placed our two nations in different camps and regrettably Bulgaria ended up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. During that period the UK became a safe haven for a number of Bulgarian dissidents and democrats – a hospitality we will always be grateful for.
It has now been over 3 decades since Bulgarians rejoined the Western world we belong to. Today contacts between Sofia and London are expanding. We have a strong political partnership, a lively cultural exchange, an ever-increasing trade, and a constant exchange between people – for work, study or tourism.
Over 140 000 Bulgarian nationals have already been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and we welcome all British citizens who wish to make Bulgaria their home.
Bilateral trade volumes have doubled over the past ten years and the UK is the third-largest investor in Bulgaria. Bulgarian companies are trusted suppliers to the NHS, the Ministry of Defence, and even to the Royal Family.
Despite the UK’s exit from the EU this Friday night – a decision we have thoughts about, but that we fully respect – I am convinced that relations between Bulgaria and the UK have become so close that we are compelled not only to preserve, but to further develop and deepen our partnership. “
picture: The Rt. Hon. Christopher Pincher MP, FCO Minister of State,H.E. Ambassador Marin Raykov and H.E. Ambassador Emma Hopkins spoke at a reception celebrating the 140th anniversary since the establishing of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and the United Kingdom ( provided by the Bulgarian Embassy )