National Day Message by H. E. Ms. Kristiina Kuvaja-Xanthopoulos, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Finland to the Republic of Bulgaria

On Monday, the 6th of December, Finland celebrates its 104th Independence Day. Independence Day is the day when we Finns honor those who fought in wars for Finland’s independence and the generations that helped to build Finland to what it is today.

Traditionally, on Independence Day people place blue and white candles in their windows, bakeries sell blue and white pastries, shops are adorned with blue and white decorations and there are blue and white flags on display everywhere. Wearing their traditional white caps and carrying torches, students walk the streets of Helsinki and gather at Senate Square.

However, the highlights of the celebrations is the reception in the Presidential Palace. The guests include prominent figures in Finnish society, such as members of parliament, university rectors and artists. Additionally, diplomatic representatives commemorate the event with their presence. The gala is televised and millions of Finns gather around to watch the festivities.

Finland and Bulgaria have a long history of working together bilaterally and regionally within the European Union. The ties that bind Finns to Bulgaria date back to the Russo-Turkish War in 1877, during which the Finnish Guard fought in the Battle of Gorni Dubnik. Every October flowers are laid at the commemorating monument in Lavrov Park.

At the turn of the 21st century, Bulgaria began membership negotiations to the European Union during Finland’s first term as President of the Council of the EU. In the course of our second term in 2006, Bulgaria was granted accession.

The EU is an essential framework for the growing cooperation between Bulgaria and Finland. These are not just institutional matters: we must protect and further encompass our shared values, such as the green transition and the fight against discrimination.

Our cooperation is bearing fruit in different spheres – trade, tourism, education. In October, the embassy was co- organizing a webinar on circular economy, which brought together both Finnish and Bulgarian experts and entrepreneurs in the field.

Additionally, there has been intensive cooperation in the cultural area: Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki received the Sofia City Award at the Sofia International Film Festival in September. Not to mention that Bulgaria is one of the most common tourist destinations for the Finns.

"Kaveriaeijätetä", roughly translated as "do not leave a friend behind", was a phrase through which our veterans from the Winter War engraved a sense of unity and solidarity to the Finnish population. It encouraged us to dismantle our internal divisions in order to preserve the common good.

As we now fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps this message of solidarity resonates in a new manner. Let us not leave each other behind. Our efforts - both in the national and global context - must be aimed at cooperation.

The Embassy of Finland wishes the readers of the Diplomatic Spectrum and their families to stay safe and healthy. We hope to celebrate Finnish independence together next year.


The photos was provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Finland in the Republic of Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Ms. Kristiina Kuvaja-Xanthopoulos, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Finland to the Republic of Bulgaria