Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, together with his wife Savita Kovind, was on a two-day state visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of President Rumen Radev. This is the first visit of an Indian president to Bulgaria in the last 15 years. During their meeting on September 5 in Sofia, the two presidents expressed a common position that the relationship between Bulgaria and India was based on true friendship and it would serve as a solid foundation for building a modern partnership based on shared democratic values and a commitment to global peace and security. In their presence, a number of bilateral documents were signed - the Science and Technology Cooperation Program for the period 2018-2021, as well as three memoranda in the field of tourism, education and nuclear energy.
That same day, Ram Nath Kovind delivered a lecture at the Aula of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski entitled "Education as an instrument of change and general prosperity". On September 5th, India celebrates Teacher's Day in honour of Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, a prominent scholar and statesman who visited Bulgaria in 1954 as Vice President of India and laid the foundations for the modern relations between the two countries.
“I dedicate my present speech to this great teacher, to this embodiment of relations between Bulgaria and India," said the Indian president, recalling that education and teaching were the building blocks of fruitful relations between every two nations - relationships that certainly exist between Bulgaria and India.
“Historically, Bulgaria and India have always been centres of traditions but also of change. Our societies have strong roots and long memory. We are also islands of stability in our regions – in the Balkans and the Indian Ocean. It is in our hands, in the hands of our peoples, of our young people - like the students gathered here, to build an even more fruitful partnership. Our civilizations are ancient and our nations are young - we know our price and we understand our values. And such a process thrives most successfully in universities”, Ram Nath Kovind added.
During the visit of the President of India, a Bulgarian-Indian Economic Forum took place, involving 67 representatives of the Indian business sector and about 270 Bulgarian companies. The opportunities for bilateral cooperation in various fields, including tourism, real estate, infrastructure, pharmacy, defence industry, etc., were discussed.
On September 6, when Bulgarians celebrated the 133rd anniversary of the Unification of Bulgaria, the two statesmen opened a monument to Mahatma Gandhi, right next to the central promenade of the South Park in Sofia. In his speech, President Rumen Radev greeted everyone with the national holiday, saying:
“The ideas and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are widely known because they contain universal values. They motivate us to be better persons, to look into the future in order to seek the good for the world. The message of peace, nonviolence, love among people, his appeal for us to be the change we seek to achieve in the world, his conviction that sympathy for the other is the best way to resolve any dispute - all this gives him a worthy place among the brightest humanitarian thinkers in the world. I am happy that on this special day Bulgaria pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi”.
On his behalf, President Kovind said: "The opening of this statue comes at an extremely appropriate time - in less than a month, on 2 October, commemorations will commence on the 150th anniversary since the birth of Mahatma Gandhi called the "father of the nation”, an apostle and the proponent of peace and non-violence in the world, the man who turned the politically unthinkable into politically unavoidable”.
English version Rossitsa Petcova