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Head of State Radev Says Bulgaria Will Support Progress of Balkan Countries Depending on State of Bulgarian Communities in Them

President Rumen Radev awarded the founder and chairperson of the Cultural Information Centre of the Bosilegrad Bulgarian National Minority, Ivan Nikolov, with the Stara Planina Order without ribbon, first degree, on Monday in Sofia. He was awarded for his extraordinary services to the Republic of Bulgaria related to his consistent and unwavering protection of the rights, national identity and dignity of Bulgarians in the Republic of Serbia.

“Bulgaria is the main engine of the European integration of the Western Balkan countries because we are aware of how important this integration is for the security, stability and sustainable economic development of the region, but we stand firm on the principle of our own merits in this integration process so that it is sustainable and irreversible,” Radev said.

“The main criterion by which we will judge and give support for the progress of these countries is the situation of our compatriots in each country – their conditions for economic and social development and, most of all, their ability to defend their national identity, language, culture and historical memory,” he stressed.

“I will continue to be personally committed, as well as Vice President Iliana Iotova, to ensuring that Bulgarian institutions actively work for a consolidated and clear national Bulgarian position and policy in support of all our compatriots abroad. I will continue to work actively with the Serbian State leadership to solve the problems of our compatriots in the western suburbs,” the President underlined.

Ivan Nikolov is a long-time active representative of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia. In 1990, he played a leading role in the founding of the Democratic Union of Bulgarians in Yugoslavia, serving as its secretary and spokesperson. Since 1997, he has been the founder and chairperson of the Cultural Information Centre of the Bosilegrad Bulgarian National Minority.

With his tireless work from the early 1990s until today Ivan Nikolov has become the most authoritative representative and moral leader of the Bulgarian national minority in Serbia, Radev said. “As a prominent public figure, publicist, writer, researcher, human rights activist, he has played a huge role in preserving the Bulgarian national identity, language, culture, historical memory of our compatriots in Serbia, as well as in strengthening their national consciousness and dignity,” he added.

Radev noted that Nikolov’s contribution to the revival and formation of active involvement and commitment of the Bulgarian State for the Bulgarians in the Republic of Serbia, as well as to the involvement of Serbia and the European Union in overcoming the challenges faced by Bulgarians there, is particularly significant. The importance of Ivan Nikolov’s patriotic work is even more visible against the background of the objective difficulties and unfavourable conditions in the areas with compact Bulgarian population, where the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood and development, among other factors, provoke alarming processes of depopulation, the President further said.