(March 28th, 2012, 2:30 p.m., National Assembly, Sofia)
The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and the Embassy of Ukraine in Bulgaria, and with the support of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, organized an inter-parliamentary debate, entitled “Ukrainian-Bulgarian Relations: 20 Years of Friendship, Trust and Partnership”.
Dr. Solomon Passy gave a start to the event by expressed his delight for having the opportunity to organize a meeting of such nature. He greeted the participants and said he hopes the debate will give satisfactory results. After the introductory speech of the President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, the Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria Georgi Pirinski addressed the audience with the appeal that Ukraine and Bulgaria have the potential to develop their bilateral relations to a much greater extent than the one they are now. Despite this, he made clear his belief that even if this potential is not developed enough the tradition shows that the peoples of the two countries are in friendly relations with each other. On his part, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine underlined how important the relations with Bulgaria for his country are – both for the finalizing of the process for joining the Association Agreement and for the future integration of Ukraine to the European Union. In this context, Bulgaria’s experience in the accession negotiations would be particularly helpful taking into consideration the similarities between Bulgaria and Ukraine.
The first President of the Republic of Bulgaria Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev also gave a speech on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the relations between Ukraine and Bulgaria. He remembered with nostalgia the days during his mandate, when he was a witness of the decision for the declaration of the independence of Ukraine from the Soviet Union. Of course, he did not miss the opportunity to mention his hopes for a future intensification of the bilateral relations between the two countries and to wish luck to the Ukrainian representatives for the EU negotiations. The Chairman of the Group for Friendship “Bulgaria-Ukraine”, Mr. Pavel Dimitrov, called the politicians of the two countries to put more efforts on initiating more joint projects because not much has been done until the present moment. Still, he added with delight that the friendship, the mutual trust and the partnership (according to the slogan of the inter-parliamentarian debate) provides preconditions for future joint projects, which are lacking at the moment.
The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Mrs. Lidiya Shuleva and other representatives of political and non-governmental circles also presented reports related to the topic of the debate.
After the official part of the debate was over, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Bulgaria H.E. Mikola Baltaji showed to those present an exhibition, which tracks the 20 years of friendship between the peoples of Ukraine and Bulgaria. The exhibition included numerous photos of meetings between the Bulgarian and the Ukrainian government as well as photos of key buildings and symbols of the two countries. The event did not only enjoy a huge interest from media and young visitors at the National Assembly, but also the event’s participants left the meeting with the feeling that Ukraine is part of the common European family and its political integration to the EU is only a matter of time.