President Drnovšek’s successful visit to Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria, 06/18/2003 | press release
As a part of his official visit to Bulgaria, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, this morning visited the renowned Rila monastery, dating from the 10th century. Since its erection and throughout the Bulgarian history, the monastery has been an important cultural centre, strengthening national awareness. On account of its magnificent architecture, artistic paintings and the role it has played in the history of the Bulgarian nation, the Rila monastery has been declared “Bulgarian National Museum”.
President Drnovšek was given a tour of the museum by the monastic superior, Bishop Joan, who introduced him to the interior of the monastery's sanctuary and its precious relics and icons. After the tour, he presented Dr Drnovšek with an icon of the monastery's founder St. Ivan of Rila.
President Drnovšek also met the Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha. To him, the monastery is of particular importance, since his father's heart is buried on its grounds.
During the working lunch, President Drnovšek and Prime Minister Gotha continued their dialogue, begun two years ago when they first met in Trieste at the then Central European Initiative Summit. This time, apart from bilateral questions, they have also discussed topical international issues.
In the afternoon, President Drnovšek visited the Bulgarian Parliament, where he met the President of the National Assembly, Ognian Gerjikov, and representatives of political parties. In his introduction, Mr Gerjikov expressed his satisfaction at being able to welcome to the Bulgarian Parliament a politician and statesman of European stature, whose efforts have crucially contributed to the present successes of Slovenia. He said that both Slovenia and Bulgaria have lived through an important period, which they concluded by receiving an invitation to join the NATO Alliance. In Mr Gerjikov's opinion, the cooperation between the two countries during the preparations for membership was extremely positive. He especially mentioned excellent relations between both parliaments and underlined the role of both countries in maintaining the stability in South-Eastern Europe.
President Drnovšek noted that relations between Bulgaria and Slovenia were typically marked by cooperation and support in achieving common goals. He hoped that Bulgaria would shortly conclude negotiations with the EU, which was the central topic of his visit. The Slovene delegation also included the Slovene Minister of European Affairs, Dr Janez Potočnik, who would today hold a lecture on Slovenia’s experience in the process of EU negotiations. In conclusion, the Slovene President expressed his satisfaction with the outstanding hospitality he was offered during his visit.