Academician Valeri Petrov, Dr. Milen Vrabevski: European Citizens of the Year

Dr. Milen Vrabevski receiving the award together with Ana Hadzhimisheva, granddaughter of poet Valeri Petrov, who received the award on his part.
Photo: BGNES
Great Bulgarian poet, writer and translator Academician Valeri Petrov and the Chairman of the Bulgarian Memory Foundation Dr. Milen Vrabevski have been awarded with the Citizen’s Prize of the European Parliament for 2013. On 16 October at a ceremony in Brussels, European Parliament President Martin Schultz will hand over honorary diplomas to the two prominent Bulgarians. For 2013 the prize will go to 43 nominees from 21 countries. The high distinction has been given since 2008 to citizens and organizations who have contributed to better understanding and integration of EU citizens. Bulgaria has had nominees for a second consecutive year.

Academician Petrov’s bid was launched by Bulgarian MEP Ivailo Kalfin (Party of European Socialists), and Dr. Vrabevski’s one, by MEPs Andrey Kovatchev and Preslav Borissov (European People’s Party). The prizes of the two nominees were given at a ceremony in Sofia organized by the Information Office of the European Parliament in the capital city. An honorary guest to event was President Rosen Plevneliev. The head of state commented that citizens represented the key power of the European Union. This year is a European Year of Citizens, of their rights deriving from EU membership. During this year, the dialogue of citizens, institutions and businesses has been raised to a new level across Europe. The president went on to say that Europe must listen to the voice of a titan of spiritual values that Academician Valeri Petrov is and to be familiar with the work of champions of the Bulgarian spirit like Dr. Milen Vrabevski.

The honorary medal of Academician Valeri Petrov was received by his granddaughter Ana Hadjimisheva. On his behalf, she thanked for the high distinction, and read an address written by her grandfather.

“The news about my nomination made me happy, of course, though I think that there are quite a few Bulgarians who would rightfully bear the title European Citizen. As far as I am concerned, I can say that I definitely feel a European citizen. It could be that I’ve done something in this direction. And, while looking for it, I can find it in the main sphere where I have worked all my life – poetry, my own one, which has always upheld humanism. I gather that the other direction where I have tried to make my small contribution into the European cause has to do with my translations from different languages that have brought Bulgarians in touch with the great European works of literature. Always, in everything that I have written, I have been guided by the call of Schiller and Beethoven for a joyful brotherhood of all men. Thank you very much: Valeri Petrov.”

Here is how the other holder of the European Citizen’s Prize Dr. Milen Vrabevski outlines the cause of the foundation Bulgarian Memory that he manages.

“The foundation works on what I perceive as national priorities: combating the demographic crisis, the integration of the Bulgarian Diaspora and the personal and professional development of young people in this country; the cultural heritage and its benefits – and all this seen through the prism of the integration process in Europe and of the standards of quality education.”

We should add here that Dr. Vrabevski has been pressing for a change in terminology, notably replacing the name Cyrillic Alphabet with Bulgarian Alphabet.

“I think it is important to say that we have succeeded to cover a broad spectrum of the public and political space”, he said. “And we have provided evidence in an international perspective that we can do better together. On the one hand, we have a titan of the Bulgarian literature here, and stepping on the shoulders of such wise men is a good way to see farther. On the other hand, there is the struggle for the national priorities seen through the prism of European integration. This is destined to be successful. And our struggle is a noble one. It is about the promotion of the Bulgarian spirit and creating a sense of European cultural identity in young generations. This includes the national identity but takes it up to a new orbit. This is the orbit of the people who have learned how to live together and who can grasp the meaning of the phrases ‘united in diversity’ and ‘a free movement of people and capital’, and who are united by the cause of progress.”

English version Daniela Konstantinova

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