site.btaFireman of the Year: Turkiye Quakes Steal Spotlight at 2022 Awards
President Rumen Radev decorated the special operations unit of the Plovdiv Regional Fire Safety and Disaster Response Directorate during the Fireman of the Year 2022 Awards Ceremony, which was held under his auspices in Sofia on Thursday. The unit was honoured for its role in the flood response effort in the area of Karlovo, Central Bulgaria in the autumn of 2022.
Radev said firefighters are the backbone of the national search and rescue force. "They are strong men, strong with their courage, solidarity and selflessness. They are the only kind of people who can make decisions for the benefit of others. I am honoured to be among them today."
Discussing the recent earthquakes in Turkiye, the President said Bulgarians should be proud that their country lent a helping hand on the very day of the disaster. The Bulgarian rescuers were the first EU team to arrive in Turkiye, Radev said. He admitted he was skeptical at first that the political decision could translate into action so quickly. He said the Bulgarian aircraft took off just five hours after the ministers of interior, defence and health and the mayor of Sofia took on the coordination job. The President recalled that days later, when he was in Brussels for the Special European Council, leaders talked about Bulgaria with respect.
"At a time of political division and skepticism, you showed the new face of Bulgaria as a country of the united, the brave and the devoted. You convinced us that Bulgaria has a future as a decent European nation in which life, health, goodneighbourliness and humaneness are supreme values. You did an incredible job in strengthening our good neighbourly relations with Turkiye," Radev said.
Some of the people who received Fireman of the Year 2022 awards contributed to the rescue effort in Turkiye in addition to what they did last year to deserve the accolade.
Radev presented awards to the emergency unit of Sofia Municipality and crews of 16th Air Base in Vrazhdebna, the Military Medical Academy, the Mountain Rescue Service and the Fire Service as well as volunteers who helped rescue survivors in Turkiye.
The award ceremony was attended by Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev, Turkish Ambassador to Bulgaria Aylin Sekizkok and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.