The Embassy of Bulgaria celebrated their National Day on 1 March 2024 at the Residence of H.E. Maria Pavlova Tzotzorkova.

The afternoon began with a performance by the Bulgarian quartet, who graduated from the Bulgarian National Academy of Music, and included performers and instructors from the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, setting the tone for the occasion. They emanated a strong cultural affinity of Bulgarians to classical music, arts, and high cultural achievements. The quartet performed two pieces for guests, the second one being Ode to Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven, also known as the anthem of Europe.

H.E. Maria Tzotzorkova welcomed honorable guests, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and distinguished representatives of South African institutions.

On 3 March, the Bulgarian people celebrated their National Day in Bulgaria, marking 146 years since the liberation of Bulgaria. In 1879, the drive towards freedom and the strong resolve of the Bulgarian society opened up the way for the restoration of Bulgarian statehood.

H.E. Maria Tzotzorkova stated that:

“The events 146 years ago helped Bulgaria regain its place on the European map as a free country.”

Currently, Bulgaria is a stable and vibrant nation, a proud member of the European Union, and a factor of stability in Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region.

Bilateral relations between Bulgaria and South Africa are built on a strong bond. Bulgaria was among those countries that strongly supported the South African people in their fight against apartheid by providing material, along with educational opportunities for South African black youth in Bulgarian universities. Around 150 South African students received their higher educational credentials in Bulgaria.

South Africa is a key partner of Bulgaria in Sub-Saharan Africa; tradition of friendship, mutual respect, and cooperation are the core principles underlying the two nations’ relations.

In 2021, Deputy Minister H.E. Mr. Alvin Botes visited Bulgaria for talks with his counterpart. In 2023, then Deputy Foreign Minister of Bulgaria H.E. Velislava Petrova paid a return visit to Pretoria, solidifying the positive trend and the regular pattern of high-level exchanges.

Last year, a major milestone was passed with bilateral relations bringing the political dialogue to the highest level. The Bulgarian President H.E. Mr. Rumen Radev visited South Africa and held fruitful, official talks with South African President H.E. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African delegation.

There was an increase of almost 200% turnover between the two countries in 2022, which was welcomed, but it was a shared view that further efforts are needed to meet the much larger potential opportunity goals.

There is much excitement around the prospective opening of a Bulgarian cultural and educational center in Pretoria, which will further promote partnerships in education and make more information available about Bulgaria and its culture as a tourist destination.

Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment Ms. Makhotso Sotyu congratulated the Republic of Bulgaria on their National Day on behalf of the Government of South Africa.

Diplomatic relations between South Africa and Bulgaria were established in 1991. Both countries enjoy warm and cordial relations with a friendship that is rooted in the shared commitment to democratic governance, security, human rights, and the rule of law.

Ms. Makhotso Sotyu reminded guests:

“Freedom does not come for free but is the self-sacrifice of the thousands of fallen heroes.”

Guests raised a glass, joining in to toast to everlasting friendship, health, and prosperity.

by Marion Kate