site.btaUPDATED Bulgaria's Ambassador to Romania: War in Ukraine Catalysed Bulgaria-Romania Relations
Meeting with Targoviste Mayor Cristian Stan on Saturday, Bulgarian Ambassador to Romania Radko Vlaykov said the war in Ukraine had acted as a catalyst on Sofia's and Bucharest's intentions to deepen their relations. On his first visit to Targoviste, the diplomat joined the Bulgarian community for a celebration of a holiday known locally as Tudorita (aka Todorovden or Horse Easter), which is celebrated on the first Saturday of Great Lent in Bulgaria.
This age-old custom harks back to the time when a Bulgarian gardener and his horse went to church to be blessed by a priest.
Ambassador Vlaykov and Mayor Stan concurred that the two countries must be a factor of stability in the region, especially against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. Talking about Schengen, Vlaykov said: "The approach of certain European countries to Bulgaria and Romania is unfair. We call this 'looking for a calf under the ox'. This is what certain countries' claims to Bulgaria and Romania concerning their entry in Schengen amount to." He expressed a hope for cooperation on EU projects, recalling that Romania's Targoviste is twinned with the Bulgarian towns of Targovishte and Kazanlak.
"It was when I came to Bucharest that I saw for myself how close the Bulgarians and the Romanians are, we are the closest in terms of history," the diplomat said. "We will be eternally grateful to the Romanian people for protecting the greatest figures in our history, who prepared the liberation movement: Hristo Botev, Lyuben Karavelov, Vasil Levski, Georgi Rakovski. The brothers Hristo and Evlogi Georgiev contributed to Bucharest's development, people with Bulgarian roots left their mark on the development of Romanian society," Vlaykov said.
The ambassador said this is one of the days which best illustrate the Bulgarian's link with the land, and praised the local Bulgarians for contributing to the region's cultural heritage. "We saw that Bulgarians fit in very well into Romania's cultural scene with their traditions," said Vlaykov, who received a plaque as a souvenir.
Mayor Cristian Stan said that the Horse Easter holiday celebrated by Bulgarians in Targoviste is one of the few surviving Bulgarian traditions and that it is also significant for the Romanians. "We are happy that young people and children take part in this Bulgarian custom every year," he said and thanked the main organizer, the Zaedno (Together) Association of Bulgarians in Targoviste.
The mayor noted that this year the celebration had attracted a record large number of participants. "Bulgarians have long lived here, they have remarkable cultural traditions, including culinary traditions - we all like Bulgarian banitsa [cheese pastry]."
Ambassador Vlaykov said: "I know the customs very well, I am happy to be part of the celebration today. I also have a personal reason: my great-grandfather, a famous Bulgarian politician and writer, was named Todor. So was my father, and my eldest child out of three is also named Todor."
Bulgaria's Honorary Consul in Timisoara, Gheorghe Nacov, member of Romania's Chamber of Deputies representing the Bulgarian national minority, thanked Romania for its good attitude towards the national minorities. He said this policy is unparalleled in Southeastern Europe.
Zaedno Association Chairman Marian Costache said this was the first time the Tudorita holiday had been attended by a Bulgarian ambassador and expressed a hope that the building used by the organizations would become a Bulgarian cultural centre.
Priest Marius Stan and the new Bulgarian priest in Romania, Kiril Sinev, officiated a prayer service and blessed horses which participated in a parade and races afterwards. Corleone won the Best Horse Prize.
A one-hour folk concert in the building of the Zaedno Association ended the celebration. Folk ensembles of the Bulgarian communities in Izvoarele, Branesti, Baleni and Targoviste acted out four Bulgarian spring-related customs preserved in Romania.