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Vezhdi Rashidov: Bulgaria's exhibition at Louvre is the best advertisement of the country

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The Louvre Museum in Paris is to host from April 15 the Bulgarian exhibition entitled “Epopee of Thracian Kings: Archaeological Finds in Bulgaria”. It is the most significant event in the country's cultural calendar in 2015. The preparation of the exhibition started several years ago with the active participation of Bulgaria's Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov. What are the expectations towards the presentation of the Thracian treasures at the Louvre Museum?

“The expectations of the state should be very high. Many people are perhaps underestimating three facts. Firstly - that the Louvre Museum is the largest museum worldwide. It is like the Vatican - a state within a state”, Minister Rashidov told Radio Bulgaria. “Apparently, when a given museum welcomes some 30,000 visitors a day, we are talking about a tourist flow coming from all across the globe. Another thing people perhaps do not know is that the Louvre usually does not provide halls for external exhibitors and prefers to show its own artifacts. In other words, Bulgaria has a special chance to launch an exhibition of such a high level. I often tend to say that it will not happen ever again, because this world museum has a very clear and straightforward policy for years to come.”

In Minister Rashidov's view, the exhibition enables Bulgaria to show one of its most valuable possessions - the culture of its ancient lands. “The forthcoming event will be the best advertisement of this country. That is why many people have already started to comment this topic. We are to witness a world event soon”. Bulgarian and French experts have been working together for three and a half years, in order to put the idea of this exhibition through.

“Thrace marked a progress in its economic development. The Thracian civilization had a very strong cultural development, too. However, cultural progress is based on a strong economy. If your artifacts are made of gold, it means that your civilization is in a great upsurge.”

A record high number of archaeological surveys (400) were made in Bulgaria last year. What is the outlook for 2015?

“We are still in a financial crisis .If one is willing to do what he really likes and his work is linked with spirituality, culture and the nation as a whole, he would always try to find ways. We can also use European funds provided by EU programmes. Of course it requires a lot of efforts. We have to work over given projects and then file applications. It is a hard job. Otherwise, it is much easier to become a minister and spend several years on this position to make a good CV. So, I believe that we will fulfill many new projects and of course complete successfully the old ones as well.”

Bulgarian archaeologists have already alarmed that some of the restored ancient premises were built to resemble Disneyland, in order to attract more tourists. What can Bulgaria do to preserve its heritage in its authentic look?

“Of course, we can try to restore and preserve finds in their authentic look as much as possible after archaeological excavations. But let me ask the following question: Did archaeologists made a mistake when they restored several towers at Tsarevets fortress in Veliko Tarnovo and raised the Patriarchate building in the middle of the hill, or when Tsari Mali Grad fortress was restored. In my view, the archaeological restorations boosted the number of visitors in Tsarevets and Tsari Mali Grad became a very attractive destination and currently enjoys a huge tourist flow.”

Recently Sofia joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. It received the City of Film designation together with Bradford (UK), Sidney (Australia), Busan (South Korea) and Galway (Ireland). Three months ago the Chiprovtsi Carpets from Northwestern Bulgaria woven on vertical handloom entered the UNESCO cultural heritage list. According to Minister Rashidov, Sofia may also enter the UNESCO list one day. His dream is to see the National Museum of History not in the outskirts of Sofia but in the heart of the capital city.

“The Magura Cave is unique with its prehistoric drawings. However, we do not have many Bulgarian experts on cave drawings. The Spanish experts are the best ones in this field. I recently paid visit to my Spanish counterpart and we discussed the possibility to launch joint teams, which can complete these researches, so the cave can also enter the UNESCO list”, Minister Rashidov concludes.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov