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In the moment, in which official diplomatic relations were being established, the Bulgarian and Russian nations had shed much blood together on the battlefields. 

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation is a diplomat with 40 years of professional experience. After graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in 1977, he started working in the Russian embassy in The Netherlands. From 1994 to 1998 Makarov was in the permanent representation of Russia to the EU in Brussels. Afterwards, he spent five years as an ambassador in The Republic of South Africa. Since 2012 he has been the Chairman of the Department of  Compatriots Abroad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Russian Federation. The ambassador is fluent in English and Dutch. He is married and has a son, who continues the family tradition by graduating from MGIMO and working in the Ministry of Public Affairs of the Russian Federation.

E. Anatoly Makarov presented his credential letters in Bulgaria in 2016. He believes that the development of the Russian- Bulgarian relations has a notable potential and works towards its realisation.

On February 10th all Russian diplomats worldwide celebrated their professional holiday.

On March 3rd  Bulgaria is going to celebrate The Liberation, its national holiday, and soon after - 140 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia and several other countries.

In relation to these two current topics, we present to you an interview with H.E. Mr. Anatoly Makarov, taken by Lubomir Mihaylov for "Earth" Magazine, and updated for Diplomatic Spectrum.

- Your Excellency, on February 10th Russian diplomats celebrate their professional holiday. When and why was this tradition established?

- In Russia, the holiday was founded with a Presidential decree in 2002, in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The date, February 10th, was  chosen because on that same day in 1549, the "Ambassadors’ Office", which is a precursor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was first mentioned in documents.

The holiday is relatively new. However, it has been widely embraced and therefore celebrated very formally every year. For example, in Bulgaria, in the Embassy school we hold a lesson on diplomacy, in which diplomats talk about their job, and the hardships and joys of their work. We put flowers in front of the Monument in the Doctors’ Garden, organize a concert and of course, make a toast for the thriving and success of our home country.

- What were the hindrances and successes in the activity of the Russian diplomats in the complicated and tense international situation in 2018?

- The worldwide environment was not mild, indeed. Unfortunately, among the perpetual challenges, the lack of trust  between the countries could also be detected. Some countries, still, could not accept the fact that the world has become multipolar and continued to impose their will with force, economical and propagandistic methods. But, there were also successful achievements.

- What do you mean?

- The copartnership on Eurasian territory was gradually developing. A serious progress was made in Syria as well. We expanded the interaction in the cultural and humanitarian field - a clear example of which was the Football World Championship.

Some of our priorities this year are the creation of a universal anti-terrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN, the mobilisation of the international community for a more efficient fight against drug trafficking and other types of organised crime. We will work towards the strengthening of the positive tendencies in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula, and for the overcoming of other states of crisis and conflicts particularly in the Near West, North Africa and Ukraine.

- The relations between Washington and Moscow are complicated and tense at the moment.

- We, just like before, are interested in rebuilding a normal relationship of equality and mutual acknowledgement of interests  with the USA and the EU. At the same time and henceforth, of course, we will react accordingly to the enhanced military activity of NATO and the approaching of military infrastructure of the Alliance to the Russian borders.

- The diplomatic profession is interesting, complicated and requires a lot of responsibility, demands extensive training. How does one become a diplomat in Russia? Are people without a suitable background and qualification  appointed to diplomatic positions, as it happens in a number of other countries?

- The job demands extensive knowledge in many areas: history, law, foreign languages, etiquette, protocol and even psychology. Therefore, by an unwritten law, no one in that profession  is coincidental. Even if one is not a diplomat with a career, they enter the sphere with experience from previous leading positions requiring responsibility, therefore already having  extensive training.  That is vital because during diplomatic services you is not only responsible for yourself, but also for the honour of your country.

- Why did you choose this profession to be your fate? Are you satisfied with your choice?

- I just really  wanted to become a diplomat. I’ve always followed and  been interested in the ongoings around the world. And when you practise what you enjoy, you feel satisfaction from the work done.

- On March 3rd, for 141st time Bulgaria will celebrate its Liberation, a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. In July we will mark the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Bulgaria. Under what conditions is this event set to happen?

- In the moment, in which diplomatic relations were established between out countries, the Bulgarian and Russian nations had shed much blood together on the battlefields. As an official date of this event is considered the day on which A.P. Davidov, appointed as a diplomatic agent and general consul in Bulgaria, submitted his credential letters to Prince Alexander Batenberg. That was on July 7th 1879, therefore this year marks the 140th anniversary of the honourable date.

- What have you been planning  for this occasion?

- We are working on a plan for events to which all who are not indifferent to this anniversary are invited - it is a common holiday of ours after all. Positively conferences and exhibitions will be held. We also want to host Days of Russian Cinema. We hope to organise a visit of a director of some of the Russian departments.

- The famous Russian diplomat from the age of the Liberation- H.P. Ignatiev, has contributed greatly for the advocacy of Bulgarian interests. Is the long held idea of building a monument of his in the street in Sofia bearing his name, going to be realised?

- Yes, there is such an idea indeed. A committee for its fulfilment has been founded. Moreover, in 1903, the Municipality of Sofia accepted such a decision. Therefore what is left is for it to be implemented. I imagine it would be very symbolic if the monument were to be placed in the 140th  year since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We are certainly working on that.

- In December, you expressed satisfaction from the fact that 2018 had been a notably successful year for the Russian- Bulgarian relations naming several important events and facts as arguments of your assessment. What are we to expect in 2019 in the different areas of collaboration and  partnership?

- 2018 was, indeed, very successful in terms of our relations. The high-level dialogue was re-established after repeated discontinuations. The visits of the Bulgarian President and Prime Minister in Russia were held. A meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for Economic and Scientific- Technical Cooperation took place. Contacts between representatives of executive and legislative power were maintained. I believe that these positive tendencies will continue the following year and that we will be able to reach tangible arrangements.

- During the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU in 2018, the government emphasised on European integration on the Balkans. What do you think of the situation in this important region for Europe?

- We observed the first Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU very carefully. I use the occasion to congratulate the Bulgarian administration on its success, a proof of which is the positive feedback of the European clerks and international experts. Unfortunately, a growth in the efforts for subversion of the venerable relations between the Balkan countries and Russia is observed more and more often on the Balkans. Our fates, however, are too closely linked to be separated.Therefore, henceforth we will strive for the preservation of the constructive and equal partnership on the Balkans, in favour of all countries and peoples in the region.

Photo provided by the press service of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Bulgaria.