At a ceremony on July 16, Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev conferred the high state honour of the Order of the Madara Horseman, first class, on the departing ambassador of the State of Israel, Irit Lilian.
The Order of the Madara Horseman is awarded to Bulgarian and foreign citizens who have made an especially significant contribution to the establishment, strengthening and development of bilateral relations with Bulgaria.
The President’s office said that the award was conferred on ambassador Lilian for her merits in the development and strengthening of relations between Bulgaria and Israel.
Radev highlighted ambassador Lilian’s contribution to the deepening of bilateral contracts in the economy and investment, education, science, cultural exchange and tourism.
He said that co-operation in the field of education and science enables Bulgaria to make better use of the successful model established by the State of Israel in these spheres.
Radev expressed appreciation to the ambassador and to the State of Israel for the admission of Bulgaria as a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the statement said.
The rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the death camps of the Holocaust during the Second World War, the 75th anniversary of which was jointly marked in 2018, was a strong moral connection between Bulgaria and Israel, not only in the sphere of interpersonal relations but also on the interstate level.
“This unprecedented act of humanism and wisdom and the shared values of the Bulgarian and Israeli peoples are the sound basis on which the common cause of humanism and the efforts in the fight against xenophobia, hate speech, racism and antisemitism stand,” Radev said.
Ambassador Lilian expressed thanks for the honour and said that the award was a further expression of the special relationship between Bulgaria and Israel.
Israel and Bulgaria are looking ahead and working to build a better world for future generations, sharing knowledge in the fight against terrorism, cybercrime, global and regional security as well as in innovation, technological creativity, education and the achievement of economic and social progress, she said.
(Photo, from left: Nikolai Galabov, president of the Friends of Israel in Bulgaria ‘Negev’, the ambassador’s spouse Alon Cohen, ambassador Irit Lilian, President Radev, and Sofia Cohen, president of the Central Israelite Religious Council of Bulgaria)