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President of Bulgaria visited the Bulgarian church communities in Germany

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During his three-day visit to the Republic of Germany, the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev also visited the Bulgarian Orthodox church communities in the cities of Berlin and Hamburg, Velina Weber told the Bulgarian Orthodox information site dveri.bg. The visit, at the invitation of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was busy. It began on May 15 with a meeting of the President with representatives of the Bulgarian community at the Embassy of our country in Berlin. There, apart from the hosts, led by Her Excellency Ambassador Mrs. Elena Shekerletova, the President was also welcomed by the members of St. Synod of the BOC, Metropolitans Nicholas of Plovdiv and Anthony of Western and Central Europe, as well as Bishops Velichi Zion, abbot of the Troyan and Bachkovo monasteries, and Smolensk Visarion, vicar of the Metropolitan of Plovdiv.

The visit of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to Germany ended on May 17 with a meeting with the Bulgarian community in the parish church “St. Cyril and Methodius ”in Hamburg. The day honoring the memory of St. Batak martyrs, whose relics were laid at the temple altar a few weeks ago during the consecration of the church, will be remembered by parishioners as a historic date, according to our church community there. In Hamburg, Rumen Radev was welcomed by the two parish priests – Krastin Apostolov and Yakov (Yavor) Sturm, as dictated by Bulgarian tradition – with bread and salt served by Bulgarian children from one of the Bulgarian dance groups in the town of Zdravets.

The high-level visit to the Orthodox church was opened with the Easter song “Christ is Risen” performed by the church choir, after which President Radev addressed the Bulgarians, who came from other northern German provinces especially for the meeting with the head of state. The President thanked the Bulgarian citizens for their successes in all public spheres, and stressed that their success on foreign soil is a success for Bulgaria as well.

Undoubtedly, one of the most emotional moments was when the Head of State presented the 88-year-old Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria Prof. Dr. Gerd-Winand Imayer with the President’s Badge of Honor in recognition of his overall contribution to the development of the Bulgarian community. Northern Germany during the last thirty years, during which he, with the support of his wife Petra Imayer, contributed to the strengthening of the Bulgarian diaspora in Northern Germany, as well as to the creation of the most important institutions for our compatriots abroad – school and church. “Dear Gerd, you are one of us,” said the event’s host, Dr. Violeta Karaivanova, a longtime associate at the consulate and embassy in Berlin. Rumen Radev stressed the important role of Prof. Imayer in stimulating the economic, political, cultural and social dialogue between Bulgaria and Germany.

The guest of honor at the event was the daughter of the first Bulgarian consul in Hamburg – Mrs. Raina Gerova de Pereira. The event managed to gather representatives of all Bulgarian organizations in Hamburg: the church community as the host of the meeting, the Bulgarian school, organizers of polling stations in the city, employees of counseling centers for labor and social adaptation for Bulgarian citizens, and organizations that develop cultural and social activities related to Bulgaria, such as the Ars and Humanitas Association, chaired by Dr. Hristo Alexiev and others. All of them briefed the head of state and the members of his delegation on their activities and goals.

The President did not hide his admiration for the Revival spirit of the Bulgarian community, which he found in Hamburg, and said that it gave him faith that despite the thousands of kilometers from his homeland, Bulgarians will not stop thinking and working for its good and future.

The highly emotional meeting ended with the performance of the troparion of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, patrons of the church in Hamburg, as well as a common prayer for peace. After the official part of the evening continued with personal conversations over a glass of wine.

Photo: Milena Apostolova

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