Now, at this particular moment of history, thirty years after the end of the totalitarian
regime that imprisoned its liberty and initiatives, Bulgaria faces the effects of the
emigration in recent decades of over two million of her citizens in search of new
opportunities for employment. At the same time, Bulgaria – like so many other
countries of Europe – must deal with what can only be called a new winter: the
demographic winter that has descended like a curtain of ice on a large part of Europe,
the consequence of a diminished confidence in the future. The fall in the birth rate,
combined with the intense flow of emigration, has led to the depopulation and
abandonment of many villages and cities. In addition, Bulgaria confronts the
phenomenon of those seeking to cross its borders in order to flee wars, conflicts or
dire poverty, in the attempt to reach the wealthiest areas of Europe, there to find
new opportunities in life or simply a safe refuge.
I am aware of the efforts that the nation’s leaders have made for years to ensure
that young people, in particular, not be constrained to emigrate. I would encourage
you to persevere on this path, to strive to create conditions that lead young people
to invest their youthful energies and plan their future, as individuals and families,
knowing that in their homeland they can have the possibility of leading a dignified
life. To all Bulgarians, who are familiar with the drama of emigration, I respectfully
suggest that you not close your eyes, your hearts or your hands – in accordance with
your best tradition – to those who knock at your door.
Your country has always distinguished itself as a bridge between East and West,
capable of favouring encounter between the different cultures, ethnic groups,
civilizations and religions that for centuries have lived here in peace. The
development of Bulgaria, including her economic and civil development, necessarily
entails a recognition and enhancement of this specific trait. May this land, bordered
by the great Danube River and by the shores of the Black Sea, rendered fruitful by
the humble labour of so many generations, open to cultural and commercial
exchanges, integrated in the European Union, and with solid links to Russia and
Turkey, offer all her sons and daughters a future of hope.
May God bless Bulgaria, keep her in peace and ever hospitable, and grant her
prosperity and happiness!