Outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Bulgaria given high state honour

At a ceremony on February 27, Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev conferred on outgoing Ukrainian ambassador Vitaly Moskalenko the state honour of the Madarski Koniik (Madara Horseman) first class.

A statement by the President’s office said that the state award for Moskalenko was for the “dedicated work and great merits of the diplomat for the deepening and expansion of bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Ukraine”.

Since the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moskalenko has had to work hard to persuade Bulgaria’s authorities to supply military equipment to his country.

It has emerged that the Petkov government did so, reportedly beyond the mandate for “military-technical” assistance for Ukraine. In December 2022, Bulgaria’s Parliament voted to require the government to supply weaponry to Ukraine.

The caretaker government appointed by Radev has said that it has fulfilled this mandate and Radev repeatedly has insisted that it should give no further military equipment to Ukraine. Radev has described those who back the continued provision of military equipment to Ukraine as “warmongers”.

A statement by the Presidency quoted Radev as saying at the ceremony: “The deep historical, cultural and linguistic ties between Bulgaria and Ukraine, for which today the thousands of ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine are a bridge, are an excellent basis for the development of our bilateral relations”.

The statement said that Radev “pointed to the dedicated and consistent work of the Ukrainian ambassador within the framework of his mandate to deepen relations between Bulgaria and Ukraine at all levels, which, would gain more and more importance in the modern complicated security environment in our region”.

It said that the state honour was “also an expression of the appreciation of the activities of Ambassador Moskalenko for the development of the traditionally good relations and friendly ties between Bulgaria and Ukraine in an extremely difficult period, marked by the global challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic and energy crisis and above all since Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine”.

Radev “confirmed the principled and consistent support of Bulgaria for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of Ukraine, for its European and Euro-Atlantic perspective, as well as the continued assistance to the citizens of Ukraine and the thousands of Ukrainian citizens seeking salvation from the war in our country”.

Moskalenko highlighted the deep connection between Bulgaria and Ukraine by recalling that the relations between the two peoples began to be built precisely on the word and literature based on the work of the saints Cyril and Methodius, their students and followers.

“The Bulgarian diaspora in Ukraine is a very powerful and serious bridge that unites us and contributes to the mutual understanding and enrichment of our peoples,” the statement quoted Moskalenko as saying.

He expressed appreciation for Bulgaria’s consistent support for Ukraine’s membership in the EU and Nato and expressed thanks for Bulgarias’ support to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, the statement said.

It is customary for Bulgaria to confer state honours on departing foreign ambassadors, and which award is conferred follows consultations between the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency.

In this case, the caretaker administration and Radev decided on the Madara Horseman for Moskalenko, rather than the Stara Planina, Bulgaria’s highest state honour, which over the years has been awarded to many other outgoing ambassadors.

(Photo via the Twitter account of the Ukrainian embassy in Sofia)

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