On the 26th of July, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Bulgaria – H. E. Dr. Mykola Baltazhi, and his wife Mrs. Penka Baltazhi gave a reception at the embassy.

The occasion was the 1030th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Rus and the completion of the diplomatic mission of the ambassador.

The evening started with the chamber choir of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with conductor Dr. Maria Valchanova that performed the "Inspire, God, my prayer" by the Ukrainian composer of religious music, Volodymyr Vainer.

Then the ambassador gave a speech in wonderful Bulgarian language:

"1030 years ago, The Holy Great Prince Volodymyr, Equal of the Apostles accepted Christianity in Kievan Rus. With this fateful choice, the great Prince of the Church put the sound foundations of the Ukrainian state. From the majestic pedestal, he seemed to bless the ancient Kiev hills, that Andrew the Apostole had set foot on. He blessed all of Rus-Ukraine, which has been standing for centuries - more than a thousand years after the conversion of Volodymyr, and will stand forever!

As a wise and far-sighted statesman, Volodymyr sensed the powerful potential of Christianity. He was indeed a great reformer who, with his strong hand, led Ukraine to the West and introduced Western culture to that land.

We received the flame of the blessed fire from Constantinople, from where the first bishops and priests came. Christ's faith has come to Kiev on the banks of the Dnieper, from Constantinople, and has then spread to other East Slavic territories and neighboring nations.

The Constantinople church has been, is and will be the Mother Church to which we have been addressing and will address when in need of help,  even for overcoming the division, which is now a great pain for Orthodox Ukrainians.

The Orthodox Church in Ukraine needs urgent attention from the Ecumenical Seat of Constantinople. He is the only one who can help the Orthodox in Ukraine to unite and regulate the canonical status of the Ukrainian Church in the structure of the world of Orthodoxy.

This issue is not only religious, but it is also about geopolitical and national security. This is a question of the unity of the Ukrainian nation. The independent Ukrainian state has the right to a single local autocephalous church, and church boundaries must follow the state.

We hope for the support of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which has gone its own thorny path to overcome the division. We know very good historical examples of fruitful cooperation between our churches. The brightest of them, perhaps, is the worship in the hospitable Ukrainian land of the prominent Bulgarian clerics - the Metropolitans Cyprian and Gregoriy Tsamblak.

Four and a half years ago Moscow began a war against Kiev. And things should be called with their own names. The Savior himself teaches that there is a clear line between a truth and a lie: " ...your words must be: yes is yes and no is no".

Despite the international support for our struggle, we know that victory depends on us. And the main spiritual weapon of our victory is our unity.

My mandate as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Bulgaria coincided in time with extremely difficult challenges for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. As early as the 6th of September 1918, that is, almost 100 years ago, in Sofia, King Ferdinand in the credentials of the Ukrainian People's Republic Ambassador Oleksandr Shulgin stated: "Along with the civilized world, we admire the heavenly flight with which the Ukrainian people, in the most difficult circumstances, did create its independent state. Indeed, there is a road ahead of you with lots of difficulties, a road that we did not travel very lightly either, but thanks to the culture and patriotism of your people, I am sure that Ukraine will soon become a developed and powerful country".

I am proud to have had the unique opportunity to be here in Bulgaria, as well as my great countryman, Ambassador Shulgin, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic, to be a representative of the proud Ukrainian nation, forced a hundred years later, into the beginning of its twenty-first century, to fight again for independence and freedom. I am proud of the fact that I had the opportunity to continue with dignity the traditions of the glorious Ukrainian diplomacy.

I am extremely grateful to all of you, dear friends, for the support I felt all the time. We have made a great deal of effort to strengthen the friendly relations between our countries and peoples - we have restored the full political dialogue, raised the sectoral and interregional cooperation in different spheres, strengthened the ties between Ukrainians and Bulgarians, implemented a bunch of humanitarian, cultural and educational projects - from the days of culture and cinema to the rehabilitation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers and children injured by military aggression by the neighboring state. All this would not have happened without your co-operation and your support. We also enjoyed the success of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Special thanks go to my countrymen - the Ukrainians in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian volunteers for their strong support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the condemnation of the illegal occupation of Crimea, as well as the honorary consuls and consulates of Ukraine in Rousse, Plovdiv and Bourgas.

I can not forget to say words of gratitude to my colleagues too - diplomats and embassy staff; from the beginning we were "doomed" to work effectively in a team. It would be unfair not to mention the contribution of two of my colleagues, who, sadly, are no longer among us.

I sincerely thank our sponsors - the companies "RUA-group", "Sopharma", "Lomsko pivo", "Madjarov", wineries "Levent", "Villa-Melnik", "Golden Rojen", "Asenovgrad" Parvomay and many others.

Yesterday, in a cozy restaurant in Sofia with a cup of coffee, I got a luck-paper saying "A journey awaits you" which I find hard to disagree with. Although it would be more appropriate to say "You are about to leave".

We are leaving with my wife Penka a wonderful and friendly Bulgaria - the historic homeland of our ancestors, the cradle of which are the picturesque towns of Tvarditsa and Korten, with a raised head and a sense of successfully accomplished uneasy mission that will be continued by my successor. And we are going back to our beloved Ukraine and beloved Kiev so that we meet you again, dear friends. For us, as diplomats like saying, it was a great honor, joy and pleasure. We will miss you as we will miss Sofia and Vitosha Mountain, the green Bulgarian mountains, the cultural destinations and much, much more. But life continues and it is wonderful. Be healthy!

 Glory to Ukraine! Long live Bulgaria!"

On the Bulgarian side, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yuri Sterk, spoke. And on behalf of the diplomatic corps in our country, spoke its doyen – H. E. Dr. Ahmed Al Madbuh Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Palestine.

Finally, H. E. Dr. Mykola Baltazhi excited everyone by singing his beloved Bulgarian song - "If you have given the other" by Emil Dimitrov.

The photos were provided by the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Bulgaria.