Bulgaria's six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union officially started at a solemn ceremony in Sofia on Thursday. The event at the Ivan Vazov National Theater was attended by 780 guests, high-ranking officials of Bulgaria and the EU.
European Council President Donald Tusk emphasized as a good thing that one of the Bulgarian Presidency's priorities will be the future of the Western Balkans.
"Who, if not you – the descendants of Spartacus, the inheritors of the oldest European statehood, you, who never ever lost a flag in any battle – would be better placed to rise to this important and exceptionally difficult task, that is to renew the European perspective for the whole of the region. You have always been determined and brave, which you have also confirmed in recent years, and this is why I believe that during the presidency you will be just as efficient as Hristo Stoichkov was at the World Cup a quarter of a century ago. With a Prime Minister, who could strike fear into many a Thracian warrior, you will certainly make it," Tusk said, receiving standing ovations for his speech.
https://twitter.com/EUCouncilTVNews/status/95152548102266470European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that Bulgarian Presidency is taking place at a crucial moment, "when the EU must deliver on a number of initiatives for our citizens and shape our Union's future".
"I can think of nobody better than my friend Boyko to carry Europe forward and act as a bridge builder in our Union and beyond. I know he will do this with force; he is doing everything with force – сила – because he is a strong and committed European.You can count on us – on Donald, on the Parliament, on the Commission. Because your place is in Europe. And your place is in Schengen. And your place is in the euro. We will work for that. The Commission will be by Bulgaria's side: united we stand strong and united we will stand", Juncker concluded.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov stressed that many questions would be asked and many answers given during the next six months on issues such as the EU's cohesion policy, cyber security, common European defense, migration crisis, and providing a hope for the EU membership to the peoples of the Western Balkans.
Guests of the ceremony had a chance to enjoy folklore songs and pieces, old church chants and folk dances of Bulgaria. The ceremony started with national anthem performed by the Children's Choir of the Bulgarian National Radio. Following the speeches of the senior EU and Bulgarian officials, the same choir performer the anthem of the European Union.
Photos: Flickr/EU2018BG Bulgarian Presidency