Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
2012 ORDINARY SESSION
Monday 25 June 2012 at 3 p.m.
The following text was submitted for inclusion in the official report by a member who was present in the Chamber but was prevented by lack of time from delivering it.
Mr TOSHEV (Bulgaria) — About 20 years ago, on 7 May 1992, Bulgaria became a full member of the Council of Europe. Now we celebrate this anniversary which will remain a historic event for us. I was proud to be one of those first members from Bulgaria present when the Bulgarian flag was raised in front of the European Palace as the first sign of the reintegration of my country into the free world. But we who were there in 1992 in this Chamber were not the first Bulgarian fighters for the European idea.
During the famous Hague Congress of Europe held in 1948, there were no official Bulgarian representatives because the communist regime cut us off from the rest of Europe. However, several Bulgarian emigrants and former diplomats were allowed to be present there as observers. These were Eugene Silianoff, Milio Mileff, Dimiter Matzankieff, as well as Dr. G.M. Dimitrov – the agrarian leader in exile – and the former Ambassador Nicolas Balabanov .
For we central and eastern European nations who suffered communist dictatorships and were not able to take part in this historic event, the Hague Congress symbolically kept several empty seats veiled as a sign that our seats were reserved in the United Europe.
On 7 May 1992, we Bulgarians came to take our reserved seats in the European Assembly as a legacy of European founding fathers. The dream of the founders of the Bulgarian nation and the first builders of the Bulgarian state has become a reality. Those of us who were present at that time in the Council of Europe were very proud to have been able to fulfill this historic mission.
Even before the Hague Congress, Bulgaria was involved in the European process. As you can see in the exhibition displayed just outside this Chamber, the Bulgarian kingdom was represented at the first pan-European congress held in Vienna on October 1926 when the European idea was born.
This exhibition is dedicated to Professor Ivan Shishmanov, who was the Bulgarian representative at the Vienna Congress of 1926. It is also the occasion of his 150th anniversary. Professor Shishmanov was also Vice-President of this historic pan – European congress, working closely with one of the most famous European founding fathers – Count Richard von Coudenhove – Kalergi. It is a particular pleasure to speak about him and his achievements, because he was born in the town of Svishtov on the Danube, which is also my native town. He was the founder of almost all Bulgarian cultural, educational and scientific institutions and it is time to remember him with gratitude.
Paying tribute to the first European of Bulgaria, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bulgarian membership of the Council of Europe.