On October 12, H. E. Mr. Alejandro Polanco, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Bulgaria, and his wife Mrs. Angeles Alastrue,

hosted a reception at the "Lozenets" residence on the occasion of the country's national holiday. The event was attended by the vice president of the Republic of Bulgaria - Mrs. Iliana Yotova, ministers, ambassadors, deputies, representatives of Bulgarian institutions, business, the media, Spaniards living here, friends.

E.Mr. Alejandro Polanco greeted his guests and delivered a speech in which he summarized what happened in Bulgarian-Spanish relations during the last two, difficult years for the world:

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an exceptional honor and pleasure for me to welcome you to the beautiful building of residence "Lozenec", to celebrate the national holiday of Spain. The extraordinary circumstances during the last two years have made it impossible to hold such events and this makes today extremely important for everyone, especially for the many friends of Spain in Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, the difficulties of 2019 were not limited to the health and transport aspects, but also extended to the economy, which was particularly affected by the change in the prices of raw materials, those of energy, influenced also by the military conflict in the heart of Europe due to the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

Spain and Bulgaria have given numerous examples in the last two years of their strong European affiliation and contributed to the unity and solidarity that shaped the European response to the crises we have gone through. The concerted actions to overcome the Covid crisis, with the common acquisition of medical equipment and the production of vaccines, with the creation of the European Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Plan, are cornerstones in the common and solidarity-based response of Europe to the difficulties and have allowed the survival of industries such as tourism, particularly important for Bulgaria and Spain.

An example of the international consensus was the joint European response to the aggression against a neighboring and friendly country, expressed in the effort to limit the conflict and its fair solution, in the success of the NATO summit held in Madrid this spring on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the membership of Spain in NATO, in the entry of Finland and Sweden into the organization and the definition of a new strategic concept.

In this difficult context, the political and diplomatic relations between Spain and Bulgaria became even more solid.

This year, President Radev visited Spain, the first such visit to my country after President Stoyanov in 1999, more than 20 years ago.

A few weeks earlier NATO forces were supported by the air patrols of the Bulgarian army with the participation of Spanish planes, which clearly demonstrated the capacity for joint response and cooperation between our military forces.

In Europe, there has been excellent cooperation between Spain and Bulgaria ever since Bulgaria's entry into the EU, supported by Spain, as well as Spain's implementation of the principle of free movement of Bulgarian citizens the same year. Today, our countries share positions on issues such as: the Conference on the future of Europe, strategic autonomy, the definition of the Schengen area, the application of tax rules and the preservation of cohesion funds. In addition, Spain supports the initiation of negotiations between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Bulgaria, supports Bulgaria's entry into Schengen and the Eurozone. Spain will seek to highlight Bulgaria's views and concerns during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2023.

Language plays a fundamental role and the cooperation between the two ministries of education allowed the consolidation of the success of the bilateral program for bilingual classes, increasing the number of schools to 18 throughout the country, the last one included is in Lovech. Spanish teachers were increased, and students reached 21,000. And as the most recent success, I must emphasize that the Council of Ministers approved last week the renewal of the bilateral agreement in education.

The embassy cannot remain aloof from the tendencies in the friendship between the two peoples, so we successfully held exhibitions and anniversaries, in which the cooperation with the Bulgarian institutions was fundamental, as well as our desire to spread throughout the country, and not to limit ourselves only to activities in the capital. I would like to thank for their support the State Agency "Archives", Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, Bulgarian National Radio, Nova Television, Antarctic Institute, Shalom, the Association of Spanish-speaking Journalists, Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Cultural Institute and many other institutions. Thanks to them, we organized exhibitions in Varna, Burgas, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, Vidin and Montana.

On an economic level, we have encouraged the international presence of Spanish companies and have significant investments in addition to the already established industries in Bulgaria. Here I want to give a very special thanks to the sponsors of this event, with whom we maintain close relations: Atusa, Empresarios Agrupados Internacional, Indra, Keros Bulgaria, Melia Hotels Internacional, Montecanal and Roca Bulgaria, and which represent a significant part of the Spanish business presence in the country.

But as my colleagues know, diplomatic relations have no soul if we do not pay attention to people. One of the most satisfying moments is the identification of Bulgarians and their support for Spain and expressing our gratitude towards them. In the last two years, representatives of the Bulgarian Sephardic community such as Sophie Danon and Angel Wagenstein, scholars such as Hristo Pimpirev and journalists such as Kadrinka Kadrinova were awarded. To them we must add, of course, the relevant ambassadors, but above all we must emphasize the awarding of the initial title "doctor honoris causa" by the University of Sofia and the University of Food Technologies in Plovdiv to Prof. Dr. Angel Lopes García-Molins and Pau Roca.

And in conclusion, a few words to the Spanish colony. You are the representatives of the Spaniards in a country which, as I have become convinced over the years, loves Spain. You have the support of the embassy and its consular section. I wish you and your families all the best.

Thank you.

After the speech, the numerous guests of the reception got involved in lively conversations. They tried the traditional delicacies of the Spanish cuisine, enjoyed the wonderful Spanish wines.

Photo: Diplomatic Life