An exhibition of foreign state honours presented to the first three democratically-elected heads of state of Bulgaria has opened at the National Museum of Military History in Sofia.
The exhibition is in a hall of the museum that has been renovated, entitled “Decorations of Heads of State of Bulgaria”.
The museum’s head, Sonya Penkova, said that until now, the museum had displayed only honours given to Todor Zhivkov, head of state in Bulgaria’s communist era, but now had been able to go beyond that to show distinctions awarded to the country’s first three democratically-elected presidents, Zhelyu Zhelev, Petar Stoyanov and Georgi Purvanov.
The opening was attended by current head of state President Rossen Plevneliev (in office since January 2012 and whose term ends in January 2017), Stanka Zheleva – representing her late father, who died in January 2015 – and Stoyanov and Purvanov.
Speaking at the opening, Plevneliev said that it was important for the children of Bulgaria to also know the country’s most recent history, because nations were strong and prosperous only when their knew their past, had learnt the lessons of history, and thus were able, step-by-step, to move forward to the future.
“Today we show another page in the history of Bulgaria. It is our duty and responsibility to tell the next generation in a fair way about every period of Bulgarian history,” Plevneliev said.
He said that the exhibition of the honours given to Bulgaria’s democratically-elected presidents not only complemented the museum’s collection but also opened a whole new topic, regarding the democratic institutions of Bulgaria in relation to the state and its symbols during the transition from a totalitarian communist regime to democracy and a socially-responsible market economy.
Plevneliev noted, as had been announced after a meeting with Stoyanov and Purvanov in January 2016, that it was planned to open a presidential library at the Presidency office in Sofia by the end of the year.
“The presentation of these awards is a depiction not only of our respect for the state and our history, but also a specific depiction of European history, of diplomacy and a sense of how the world and Europe sees us as a state,” Penkova said.
The National Museum of Military History is at 92 Cherkovna Street in Sofia. Admission for adults costs eight leva, and there are special prices for children, students, people with disabilities, military personnel and groups. Guided tours in Bulgarian and in foreign languages are available. Admission is free on the last Wednesday of every month. The exhibitions are open to visitors from Wednesdays to Sundays, 10am to 6pm.