Bulgaria Celebrates 140th Anniversary of Liberation from Ottoman Rule

Bulgaria Celebrates 140th Anniversary of Liberation from Ottoman Rule

Sofia, March 3 (BTA) - On March 3 Bulgaria marks the 140th anniversary of its liberation from Ottoman rule. Liberation came with the signing of the San Stefano peace treaty of March 3, 1878, which ended the Russo-Turkish War.

The San Stefano Treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was signed in San Stefano (now Yesilkoy), a village west of Istanbul, by Count Nicholas Pavlovich Ignatiev and Alexander Nelidov on behalf of the Russian Empire and Foreign Minister Safvet Pasha and Ambassador to Germany Sadullah Bey on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty provided for the establishment of an independent Bulgarian state over the geographical regions of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia.

The San Stefano Treaty was subsequently revised by the Treaty of Berlin (1878) whereby an autonomous Principality of Bulgaria was established (between the Danube and the Balkan Range, with its seat at the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Turnovo and including Sofia), and an autonomous Ottoman province under the name of Eastern Rumelia was created south of the Balkan Range. Macedonia and Eastern Thrace were left under the rule of the Sultan.

March 3 was celebrated for the first time in 1880 - two years after the Liberation - as the day on which Russian Emperor Alexander II ascended to the throne. Two years later, in 1882, the State Council adopted a list of holidays in the Principality of Bulgaria in which the date was set down as one for celebrating the conclusion of the Treaty of San Stefano.

In the period of communist rule celebration of the day was suspended in 1950 with the exception of 1978 when the centenary of the Liberation was marked. Ten years later (1987), March 3 was restored as an official holiday by a decision of а Plenum of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. A decision of the National Assembly of February 27, 1990 declared March 3 a national holiday.

March 3 is celebrated across Bulgaria, with special observances held in Sofia as well as at Mt. Shipka and Pleven which were both the scene of decisive battles in the Russo-Turkish War.

A memorial service to commemorate the fallen soldiers will be held on Mt. Shipka in the morning. It will be attended by President and Supreme Commander in Chief Rumen Radev, Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia. Later a military tattoo will be held in Sofia where President Radev will review the troops and will deliver a speech.

Source: Sofia