We must step out of the paradigm of Bulgaria merely within its physical borders. Bulgaria is everywhere in the world where there is a person who speaks, thinks or dreams in Bulgarian. Our country must have a closer connection with the noteworthy Bulgarians who have taken the Bulgarian word, alphabet and spirit thousands of kilometres away. This was stated by President Rumen Radev, who participated in a virtual literary meeting, ‘A people shall not perish when true learning lights its days’. The forum was held on the initiative of Vice President Iliana Yotova, with the goal of encouraging contacts between the creative circles at home and Bulgarian writers and poets who have transferred knowledge about Bulgaria to the most distant countries.
In the words of the President, the encapsulating of Bulgarian culture from the outside world must not be allowed, for artistic people create a tale about our country abroad. Rumen Radev added that, by integrating in their work the successful social models, values and principles of the countries where they live, writers, in turn, contribute to the democratic path that Bulgaria is following.
How they preserve the Bulgarian spirit abroad; how they tell of Bulgaria thousands of kilometres away; what kind of relations they want with their homeland—these topics were shared by the artists Ivo Ivanov, Snezhana Galcheva and Angel Kolev from the USA, Gergana Egova-Dineva from Canada, Vladimir Stoichkov from Ecuador, Mihail Krastanov and Ilko Minev from Brazil, and Maria-Sonia Christoff from Argentina. The Vice President pointed out that the works of some of these authors are kept in the Sts Cyril and Methodius National Library, but are not well known to the Bulgarian public.
On behalf of Bulgaria, the following took part in the conversation: Prof. Valeri Stefanov, lecturer at St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University and Director of the University Press; Georgi Nikolov, oard mebmber of the Union of Bulgarian Writers, author of several encyclopaedias of Bulgarian writers around the world; and Kadrinka Kadrinova, Chair of the Association of Spanish-speaking Journalists.
The ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund was the partner of the Vice President’s initiative. The Fund’s Director, Slava Ivanova, presented the successfully realised project of publishing in Bulgarian one of the most widely circulated children’s novels in the USA, ‘Dobry’, illustrated by the Bulgarian artist Atanas Katchamakoff, who was also the main character in the work.
The participants in the literary meeting thanked for the opportunity to establish through this initiative closer contacts with each other and the creative circles in Bulgaria. All unanimously supported the idea of Vice President Yotova to set up a Bulgarian National Cultural Institute, with a main goal of expanding Bulgaria’s cultural influence around the world. ‘Our concept is ready, we have the support of various circles in Bulgaria and among our compatriots abroad. Unfortunately, with the previous executive and legislative power, we did not find the will to implement this idea,’ said Iliana Yotova.
‘We cannot rely that our compatriots abroad will be fully included as an intact Bulgarian community only through sporadic events, isolated celebrations, concerts, meetings,’ observed President Rumen Radev. The head of state declared that the goal of this institute is to create a comprehensive policy for Bulgarians abroad and expressed hope for joint work in connection with the promotion and advocacy of the idea to the institutions.
The next meeting, with Bulgarian authors from Australia and Africa, will be held on the eve of 24 May. These discussions are a continuation of the virtual initiatives, through which, during a pandemic, the Vice President undertakes to reach more Bulgarians abroad and their voice to be heard in their homeland.
You can watch a full recording of the virtual literary conference in this video.