National Day Message by H. E. Ms. Florence Robine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic to the Republic of Bulgaria

On 14th July France celebrates its national holiday, which we, the French, refer to as "Le14 juillet", but which is commonly known outside of our country as Bastille Day. This date marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution. It was one of the major turning points in modern European history, the profound effects of which were felt not only in France, but also throughout the entire continent.

This year we also find ourselves at a crossroads, although under circumstances that are fundamentally different from those that brought about the French Revolution. And yet the current health and economic crisis that our world is going through has already compelled us to make radical changes to our way of life, changes which are only beginning to take shape, but which are here to stay beyond the short term. It is with this in mind that we are in the process of learning to adapt to this new situation and to make the most out of the opportunities that arise from it, while at the same time we tackle the negative impacts of the crisis.

Due to the pandemic, we were unable to organize the traditional reception at the French Embassy on the occasion of the 14th July. We therefore decided to convert this unrealized event into an opportunity to honour our strong relations with Bulgaria while showing our solidarity with the people who are the worst affected by the current crisis.

We made donations to several social and health institutions and to some of the neediest people in these hard times. Our offerings include medical equipment for the Children’s Unit of Harmanli Hospital, tablets and multifunctional printers to support the continuation of teaching and learn in gat residential group homes for children in Varna, as well as essential food parcels that were distributed among some 2,000 underprivileged families across Bulgaria.

We also teamed up with several organizations to deliver three hospital beds, of which two were given to Harmanli Hospital and one to the Sofia Central Prison Hospital. This project could not have been achieved without the financial and logistical support and the personal involvement of the people behind Solidarité France-Bulgarie, Solidari’terre, the Marcel Sembat Professional High School in Vénissieux, and the transport company Act Logistics.

At a time when we mark 141 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, it is all the more important that we demonstrate our solidarity with our European partners, in the spirit of the French Republican values. For it is only together and through joint efforts that we will overcome the plights of today and lay the foundations for a new tomorrow. The historical recovery deal reached recently by the European leaders gives us room for hope, and I am optimistic that it will usher in a slow but steady return to a more "normal" life for everyone.

The photo was provided by the Embassy of the French Republic in Bulgaria.