The President of Bulgaria was awarded the honour in recognition of his commitment to deepening Hungarian-Bulgarian relations, regional stability and European cooperation, and his extremely important activities to facilitate them; the decoration was officially bestowed on him by President of Hungary János Áder.
In his speech honouring President Plevneliev before presenting him with the decoration, Prime Minister Orbán emphasised that Mr. Plevneliev is the fourth Bulgarian president since the fall of communism, and that he is a friend of Hungary who has contributed in a decisive manner to the development of Hungarian-Bulgarian relations.
“Over the past thousand years we Hungarians have known the Bulgarian people as a freedom-loving nation which shares a fate similar to ours, and which is proud of its Christian traditions: a nation which, thanks to its perseverance and diligence, has been able to find its feet – even in the most difficult situations”, the Prime Minister said.
Today, he said, the Bulgarian people also deserve a “salute”, because they showed much wisdom when they decided that someone who is capable of successfully working for the success of the country in business can also be safely entrusted with putting the country’s economy in order, Mr. Orbán said, adding: “This was how they first elected Mr. Rosen Plevneliev Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, and then in 2011 President of the Republic”.
“After the fall of communism, both as a businessman and politician, President Plevneliev played an important part in enabling Bulgaria to find its feet after the economic shock, and to return to Europe. Recently the Honourable President has worked tirelessly to assume an active role within NATO and the European Union. Meanwhile, as a patriot he is making every effort to help Bulgaria preserve its identity, its historical past and its rich and unique culture”, Mr. Orbán said.
According to Mr. Orbán, the Bulgarian head of state has had to grapple with difficult decisions during his years as president, he has had to work with caretaker governments, to personally raise the rank and standing of the office of president, and to make wise decisions in difficult political situations.
In the name of the people of Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán expressed his thanks to the Bulgarian president for the friendship and devotion he has shown Hungary, saying that Rosen Plevneliev is a worthy advocate for the thousand-year-old friendship between the peoples of Hungary and Bulgaria.
In his acceptance speech, President Plevneliev said that “If there are two peoples in the world who have always maintained good relations and striven to achieve cooperation for centuries, those two peoples are Hungarians and Bulgarians, who fought side by side against Ottoman oppression and later also against communism”. Recalling his personal experiences, he mentioned that his first visit to Budapest had been as a university student going to a pop concert.
Mr. Plevneliev stressed that, both as a businessman and a minister, he had always paid particular attention to developments in Hungary, and will gladly visit Hungary again in the future.