Ladies and Gentlemen,
The diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and France were established on the 8th of July, 1879. However, the two nations have a long history throughout the centuries – the first treaty between the Bulgarians and the Francs dates back to the IX century, in 829.
In the XIX century, the depth of our connection was demonstrated by the solidarity of the French great minds with the aspiration of the Bulgarian people to independence. I’ll mention only a few names: the explorer Ami Boué, the poets Alphonse de Lamartine and Victor Hugo, the slavicist Louis Léger, the vice-consul of France in Sofia Léandre Legay. Numerous are the streets and schools named after these worthy Frenchmen in the capital Sofia and all over Bulgaria.
During the reconstruction of the modern Bulgarian state in the second half of the XIX century, France served as a model for the establishment of the fundamental state principles of Bulgaria, especially with regard to the legal and educational systems. Moreover, until the 90s of the XX century, the French language was the most frequently taught foreign language in Bulgaria.
Loyal to its traditions, France was present at the time when Bulgaria began its return to democracy. In 1989, the visit of the French president François Mitterrand in Sofia and his breakfast with the Bulgarian dissidents marked this new stage of our national history and bilateral relations. It was the beginning of a new path on which Bulgaria and France found themselves together in several international forums successively like the International Organization of the Francophonie in 1991, NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
Today, our bilateral relationships are based on a strategic partnership which development is in the interest of our two nations, in respect of the national traditions and sensibilities and in the spirit of the European customs.
For this purpose, Bulgaria and France are committed to develop and intensify their cooperation in the political, economical, educational and cultural fields – an exciting initiative for which we rely more than ever on your support.