site.btaUPDATED Bulgaria Celebrates 114 Years of Independence
Bulgaria marked the 114th anniversary of the declaration of its independence on Thursday.
On September 22, 1908, following a prayer service at the historic Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs in the country's medieval capital Tarnovo (North Central Bulgaria), Prince Ferdinand I read a Manifesto proclaiming the vassal Principality of Bulgaria a kingdom independent of the Ottoman Empire.
The declaration of independence required considerable efforts by Bulgarian diplomacy to secure recognition from Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Russia. At the end of the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, the March 3, 1878 preliminary Treaty of San Stefano ended 482 years of Ottoman rule over Bulgaria but did not make it an independent State. Article VI of that Treaty constituted Bulgaria "an autonomous tributary Principality". Article I of the July 1, 1878 Treaty of Berlin confirmed this status, defining Bulgaria as "an autonomous and tributary Principality under the suzerainty of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan".
In the course of 30 years, Bulgaria gradually repudiated its vassal dependence on Turkey, stopping to pay its annual tax, concluding international treaties, waging a war with Serbia without the Sultan's sanction and declaring a union with the Ottoman autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia on September 6, 1886.
The declaration of independence officialized the changed situation in the Balkans and the country's new status as a kingdom in its own right. It extricated Bulgaria from its dependency past and put it back on the European map of independent States.
A solemn liturgy and peeling of church bells of the Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs early on Thursday morning marked the beginning of the celebrations of the anniversary in Veliko Tarnovo.
Traditionally, after the end of the service, Velikо Tarnovo's Metropolitan Bishop Grigorii performed a blessing of the waters and sprinkled the battle flag of the Vasil Levski National Military University with holy water as well as the flags of state and municipal institutions, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. The national flag was hoisted at the Tsarevets Fortress with a military ritual.
Vice President Iliana Iotova and Mayor Daniel Panov delivered festive speeches. Guests and residents of Veliko Tarnovo laid wreaths and flowers at the Pyramid of Independence.
A solemn celebration also took place in front of the Independence Monument in Sofia.