On 28th of April, H. E. Mr. Thabo Thage, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa in the Republic of Bulgaria, and his wife Ms. Elizabeth Busisiwe Thage

gave a reception at on the occasion of the national holiday of the country. We were honored by the presence of the H. E. Mr. Nikolay Milkov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, H. E. Mr. Nikola Stoyanov, Minister of Economy and Trade, H. E. Mr. Ilin Dimitrov, Minister of Tourism, H. E. Ms. Maria Pavlova, Deputy Minister of Justice, ambassadors, politicians, cultural figures, journalists, South Africans and Bulgarian friends.

H. E. Mr. Thabo Thage said "Welcome" to his guests and addressed them with a word of welcome in which he spoke of the 29th anniversary of the first democratic elections in South Africa, the 31st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries and for his successful and fruitful mandate in our country, which is coming to an end.

Exactly twenty nine years ago, the Republic of South Africa, once an outcast and a pariah state in the international community, celebrated its freedom through its first national democratic elections on the 27th of April 1994, paving the way for the first time in its history, the election of a Government reflecting the will of all the people of South Africa.

We are mindful that liberation would not have been achieved without the support of the international community, a reflection of exceptional global solidarity and we remain grateful to all of those who embraced the fight against apartheid including Bulgaria, a brotherly and sisterly country that provided material and other support as part of its solidarity of purpose with the people of South Africa. Our 29th anniversary is therefore an international celebration of the universal quest for a more equal, prosperous, peaceful and just world. It is for this reason that we have chosen to celebrate this momentous occasion, not only in South Africa, but throughout the world. 

Owing to the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, for over three years the South African Embassy could not celebrate the historic anniversary of our country’s first democratic elections. Notwithstanding, major strides were taken to ensure that the 31 years of bilateral relations continue to grow from strength to strength. The relations between South Africa and Bulgaria are now more structured, expanding and deepening.  Bulgaria hosted the very first bilateral political and economic consultations between our two countries when South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, Mr Alvin Botes, visited Sofia in October 2021. As a follow-up to this visit, Bulgaria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr Velislava Petrova travelled to South Africa for the second round of political consultations with Deputy Minister Botes just two days ago.

Locally, the South African Embassy oversaw a fairly smooth and timely process of the appointment of Mr Nenko Nenkov as South Africa’s new Honorary Consul for the Varna and Burgas regions.

In 2022, most of you joined us as we celebrated the historic unveiling of the monument honoring the global icon, former President Nelson Mandela, right in the heart of Sofia.

With regard to economic relations, we are happy to witness an impressive upswing post COVID in trade between South Africa and Bulgaria. On the other hand, I am pleased to share with you that South Africa is one of the biggest investors in the commercial property sector in Bulgaria with investments totaling over $1.3 billion.

We also jointly and successfully initiated co-operation and collaboration between our esteemed academic institutions.

What I have shared with you today is a high-level account of a common and shared history that South Africa and Bulgaria are traversing. As we look to the horizon, our task is in converting the dividend of a shared history into a dividend of socio-economic prosperity and friendship.

Esteemed guests, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to note that I have the pleasure of addressing you at this memorable occasion nearing the end of my tenure in Bulgaria. Considering all limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, these past 4 years have flown in a second. Be that as it may, we all know that pleasant experiences end too quickly.

As I conclude, please allow me to thank my dearest wife, for standing beside me through it all providing all necessary and much needed support and guidance during our time here.

A big thank you to my hardworking team at the Embassy, whom I fondly refer to as Team SA, for making our stay here productive and pleasant, including organising this magnificent event.

May I also take this moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellencies, as well as friends across the length and breadth of Bulgaria for your friendship during the last four years. May our friendship keep thriving.

I would also like to thank the Hyatt Hotel for going out of their way in ensuring and contributing to the success of this celebration. 

Lastly, thank you to Bulgarian business who brought the delicious flavor of South Africa in the form of Amarula to accompany the decadent spread of South African cuisine, courtesy of the collaboration between the South African Embassy and the Hyatt Hotel, for us to enjoy tonight! In Bulgaria we would refer to this as "chudesen privkus".

These friendships, collaborations, co-operations, teamwork and more, are an attestation of the African proverb which says and I quote "If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together."

Blagodaria na vsichki!

The ambassador's speech predisposed the guests to lively conversations. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful South African wines and Amarula, and happily tried the specialties of the excellent South African cuisine.

Photos: Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in the Republic of Bulgaria

Above: H. E. Mr. Thabo Thage, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa in the Republic of Bulgaria