Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | May 29, 2002, Wednesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Since July, 2001, Mr. Solomon Passy is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. From 1992 to 2001, Mr. Passy was President of the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria of which he is founder. In 1996-1999 he was Vice President of the Atlantic Treaty Association and the first national of a country in Central and Eastern Europe to be elected to that position. MP in the Grand National Assembly. Co-author of the new Bulgarian Constitution. He was the first to propose that Bulgaria should join NATO.

Foreign Minister Passy was kind to comment especially for and the visit of Pope John Paul II in Bulgaria.

Mr. Passy met Martina Iovcheva - Editor-in-Chief of and The News.

Q: Mr. Passy, the visit of Pope John Paul II, which you have been preparing for years, ended a couple of days ago. What do you think is the most important part of the Papal visit in Bulgaria?

A: That was a historic visit. For the first time in the thirteen-century history of Bulgaria, a Pope visits our country. For the first time in the thousand-year history since the existence of the two churches - the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, there was such a unique meeting between the Pope and the Bulgarian Patriarch. These events are so significant that it is very difficult to assess them in the week that follows them. The result will be assessed for centuries, since most probably the Papal visit was a giant step made by the West towards the East. That was a giant step towards making closer Catholicism and Orthodoxy and is a great progress towards making closer all religions in the world.

We had the unique chance during this visit, the Pope to say the sacral words, we have been waiting for twenty years now, namely, that Bulgaria is entirely innocent concerning the assassination attempt on the Pope's life. That is why we have the grounds to be fully satisfied. Besides all the things that can be seen and touched, there are some subtle results. These are the inspiration, as well as the emotional and spiritual uplift, felt by all participants in this visit, namely, the Bulgarian people.

Q: Did the Papal visit surpass your personal expectations?

A: The visit surpassed not only my personal expectations, I think that the visit surpassed the expectations of all, involved in the organization of this special event. I did work on the organization of this visit for many years and it surpassed the expectations of all who tried to forecast the results from it.

Q: The Pope for years has preached for the vision of United Europe. Could this visit help our country en route to EU accession?

A: The Pope blessed the foreign politics of the Bulgarian Government, in particular Bulgaria's integration efforts, and especially the country's efforts for EU membership. Not only his personal blessing for Bulgaria's foreign politics but also the words that all European leaders will hear from him attach additional privilege to Bulgaria.

Q: What other doors that will open for Bulgaria after the Papal visit?

A: The promotion that the Pope made to our country all over the world was promotion that cannot be paid with money. That was promotion among the world elite and the world community. Thus, after the Papal visit, Bulgaria has a new image abroad.

Q: What did you talk with the Pope during your meetings with him? Which were the topics, related to Bulgaria, which were of greatest interest to him?

A: We talked, of course, about the huge Bulgarian contribution, namely, the Cyrillic or the Bulgarian alphabet. On May 24, the Pope traditionally hosts the Bulgarian delegations in the Vatican. We also talked about all the big contributions of Bulgaria to mankind. Upon his arrival in Bulgaria, the Pope expressed in his first address his satisfaction with the fact that Bulgaria saved the Bulgarian Jews during WWII. We also talked about tolerance in Bulgaria.

Q: What touched you most during your meetings with the Holy Father?

A: I was personally extremely impressed with the strength of his spirit and especially with the fact that with the strength of his spirit, the Pope has overcome the suffering of his body.

Q: How would you comment the decision of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to name Bulgaria in the final declaration in support of the Alliance enlargement?

A: That was a very important decision. That was a decision we worked for many months and this is a very big step ahead en route to Bulgaria's NATO membership.

Q: EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen arrives in Bulgaria today. What are your expectations from the talks with him?

A: The accent of the talks with him will be put on the process of integration in the European Union. I think that this visit is very important for this year, which sets the end of Spain's Presidency. As you know Bulgaria's efforts now concentrate on receiving an exact roadmap for the country's negotiations with the European Union.
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