Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
3rd March, 2016
On the 3rd of March Bulgaria celebrated a national holiday – the Day of Liberation of their country from the Ottoman oppression. This year, at the celebrations in Shipka, the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan was unexpectedly invited, but the Russian leader was not invited at all, similar to how an invitation was not sent to Russia in 2014.
Recall that from 1396 to 1878 Bulgaria was part of Ottoman Empire. As the result of Russia’s victory in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, the San Stefano Treaty was signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria gained independence.
This day is a national holiday in Bulgaria, an event widely celebrated throughout the country. But in recent years representatives of Russia have not been invited to the celebration, which provoked large-scale discussions among Bulgarian society.
The Bulgarian authorities explained their decision by the fact that today Sofia has closer political contacts with the former oppressors, Turkey, than with Russia. The main argument is that the country shed more Turkish blood than Russian, and the Turkish military sacrificed more of their lives.
Also, argue the reformers, the liberation of Bulgaria is a very contentious issue for the Bulgarian history. In their opinion, since 1878, after the “invasion of Russia” in Bulgaria, much worse times came to Bulgaria.
The view of the independent and former representative of DPS, Lyutvi Mestan, is that a reunion with Osman imperium would be good, and that Bulgarians never lived better than at the time of Osman imperium.
As a result of this decision of Sofia, Bulgarians located in London decided to celebrate the liberation of their country in front of the Russian Embassy.
Now we have just to wait to see how Bulgarians will welcome Erdogan at the celebration of the independence of Bulgaria
As a reminder, on 19th February a proposal of 73 deputies from political parties GERB, BSP, DPS, Patriotic front and the Bulgarian Democratic Centre on the creation of a temporary Commission to investigate the facts and circumstances related to allegations of interference by Russia and Turkey in the internal affairs of Bulgaria was supported by 126 MPs, 19 were against and 13 abstained.
This decision was commented on by the official representative of the MFA of Russia, Maria Zakharova.
According to her, the absurdity of this situation is expressed in the absurd name of the Commission. History knows examples of the kind of “interference” in the internal affairs of Bulgaria, when Russian soldiers came to the territory of that country by force of arms, to resist fascism and to liberate their brothers from evil. The cynicism of the initiators of such actions lies in the fact that the infamous Commission was established on the eve of the 138th anniversary of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman oppression.
As was reported earlier in the media, this year one of the priorities of the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria was announced as the development of a national “counter-strategy for the hybrid model of warfare”, including with Russia.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, despite the serious harm to the country from joining the sanctions against Russia, and the lack of an unequivocal position of the government on this issue, repeatedly advocated the preservation of the sanctions, calling them “the only tool available to Europe” to deter “Russian aggression”. The head of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, Daniel Mitov, announced Russia and the terrorist group “Islamic State” as the main threats to the foreign policy interests of the European Union.
Meanwhile, since the end of January, rallies against government policies have been frequent in Bulgaria. The country is dying, and corrupt officials prefer to search for an external enemy in the form of Russia, say the organizers of the protests. Almost 700,000 people in Bulgaria want to hold a referendum for changing the current political system.