site.btaBTA Opens New Press Club in Ankara
The Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) unveiled a National Press Club in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Thursday. BTA is not only making a full comeback to Ankara but is also expanding its presence in Turkiye with a National Press Club, BTA Director General Kiril Valchev said in his opening remarks.
BTA is planning to have such press clubs in all neighboring countries, as well as in countries with large Bulgarian communities. Ankara is the fifth - after Skopje (Republic of North Macedonia), Bucharest (Romania), Bosilegrad (Serbia) and Taraclia (Moldova), said the Director General.
"A changed BTA has returned to Ankara after 30 years on the day that a century ago Ataturk returned to Turkiye from Bulgaria," Valchev added.
In her remarks at the opening event, Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Iotova likened BTA to colour X-ray image of the world around us.
Attending the opening event were also Bulgaria's Ambassador to Turkiye Angel Cholakov, Bulgaria's Consul General in Istanbul Vassil Valchev, the Consul General in Edirne Borislav Dimitrov, Bulgarian National Radio Director General Milen Mitev and Anadolu Agency Director Serdar Karagoz.
A documentary exhibition of the Bulgarian Archives State Agency dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was unveiled on the sidelines of the opening of the BTA National Press Club in Ankara. It shows photographs and documents of the time that the founding father of the Republic of Turkiye spent in Sofia between 27 October 1913 and 2 February 1915.
BTA's Ankara correspondent is Nora Cholakova.
BTA also has press clubs in Skopje (Republic of North Macedonia), Bucharest (Romania), Bosilegrad (Serbia), and Taraclia (Moldova).
In addition to the five overseas press clubs, BTA also has one on the Bulgarian naval research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii, which set sail for Antarctica on December 27, 2022.
Opening new press clubs is part of the Agency's policy under the brand BTA National Press Club. The goal is to establish them as places for communication between media and representatives of business, politics, culture and sport. Press conferences, discussions, exhibitions, and other events are organized there, during which institutions, organisations and citizens can send messages and make announcements.
Following is a soundbite of remarks during the opening event.
BTA Director general Kiril Valchev thanked Bulgarian Ambassdor to Turkiye, Angel Cholakov, and the team at the embassy in the Turkish capital for helping BTA have a permanent correspondent and a press club in Ankara even at the beginning of a year when Turkiye will mark the centenary of the republic.
"BTA’s last correspondent in Ankara, Apostol Saraivanov, left in 1993. His first predecessor in Turkiye, Dimitar Shishmanov, began work in 1954, reporting first from Istanbul and then, five years later, from Ankara. According to Prof. Huseyin Mevsim of Ankara University, however, the Bulgarian News Agency had correspondents in Turkiye even from 1924. Following a series of full-time contributors, after 1998 BTA received articles sent by its freelance correspondent Nahide Deniz based in Istanbul. Earlier this year, experienced senior editor at the Balkans Department in Sofia Nora Cholakova became BTA’s correspondent in Ankara," Valchev said.
"BTA’s press clubs are not only correspondents’ offices and news conference halls, but also places where Bulgaria is presented with events like the one being opened today, the documentary exhibition of the Bulgarian State Archives, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Sofia (October 27, 1913 - February 2, 1915)," Valchev pointed out.
"The archival photos and documents show that Ataturk was not only the leader who changed Turkiye, but he was also a person with a significant role in changing the relations between Bulgarians and Turks after centuries of opposition. As he himself said in 1931, he would never forget the pleasant moments he had spent in Bulgaria. He was adamant that he would always remain a friend of the Bulgarian people whom he loved with all his heart even as a child. Ataturk was equally convinced that Turkiye and Bulgaria should be friends," Valchev pointed out.
"It is precisely as good neighbours that the Turkiye changed by Ataturk and free Bulgaria should do everything possible to know each other better, to help each other, not allow alienation and respect each one’s differences," he added.
“In fulfilling our duty to tell the world about Bulgaria and the Bulgarians, we have a good partner in the Anadolu Agency. In the autumn of last year, my colleague Anadolu Agency Director General Serdar Karagoz and I signed a new agreement to exchange news every day, but we noted that the cooperation between BTA and Anadolu Agency is older than us - the first agreement dates back to 1972. The two agencies are also together in the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA), which, with the support of our Turkish friends, is now registered with its headquarters in Bulgaria, and Mr. Karagoz will take over the presidency of ABNA from Greece this year at the annual general meeting in Ataturk's hometown of Thessaloniki, where Serdar himself was born.
"It seems to me that the Turkish 'askolsun' Bulgarians use to say “Well done!” is appropriate for the joint projects of BTA and Anadolu Agency. But the meaning of 'Askolsun!' goes far beyond 'Well done!', for it literally means 'Let there by love!' and is used as a greeting by those who believe in the same thing.
"So let's hope that in the new BTA Press Club there will be many meetings of like-minded people who turn to each other with 'Askolsun!'," the BTA Director General concluded.
Vice President Iliana Iotova said that for 125 years now, BTA has been offering a colour X-ray image of Bulgaria, the Balkans, Europe and the whole world. "It shows the world to Bulgaria and Bulgaria to the world," the Vice President said.
She pointed out that the Ankara press club is one of many that the Bulgarian News Agency has opened abroad. She wished the BTA team to make it "a true cultural institution".
"High professionalism has remained BTA's brand to this day," said Iotova.
She pointed out the symbolism in the timing of the opening of the new press club: this year will mark the 125th anniversary of BTA and the centenary of the Republic of Turkiye.
She spoke about the energizing of relations between Bulgaria and Turkiye and mentioned as an example a recent meeting between the two Presidents, Rumen Radev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, followed by the signing of an agreement in the energy sector. She also mentioned a recent Bulgarian business and investment forum in Istanbul.
"It is important to have peace, friendship and understanding in the Balkans and the countries that share a border," said Iotova.
The Vice President brought a painting of a Bulgarian woman as a gift to the Press Club for its opening.
Bulgarian Ambassador to Turkiye Angel Cholakov called the new BTA Press Club in Ankara "the second home of Bulgaria at the heart of the Turkish capital". He mentioned the facility's symbolic location on Ataturk Boulevard and the symbolism of the opening date: the same day when Ataturk left Bulgaria where he was a military attache.
"Today is the date of birth of the national press club but how it will grow up and develop, is up to us all: our ideas, proposals, ambitions," the Ambassador added.
He said that his wish and that of BTA Director General is to see the press club becoming a place for meetings and debate, "a launch vehicle to promote Bulgaria as a destination for tourism, investment and culture - but most of all a place for contacts and friendships".
Time will show whether along with being a press club it will also be a boutique art gallery or a cultural centre, the Ambassador added. Whatever happens, he is sure that the press club will be much more than its name says.
Anadolu Agency General Director Serdar Karagoz expects further fruitful cooperation with the Bulgarian News Agency. "The Anadolu Agency was founded in Ankara exactly 103 years ago. It's a great pleasure for us that exactly 103 years later BTA is opening an office here in Ankara. The two countries are very close and by that I don't mean only the geographical aspect of things. We are also close culturally and our historical links are sustainable," added Serdar Karagoz.
"It's time to bring the two communities even closer to each other," he said.
Karagoz pointed out that with the opening of this press club in Ankara the relations between the two countries will become even better and closer.
He said that the cooperation between the two agencies is based on an agreement for exchange of information on a daily basis.