Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the opening of the exhibition to mark the 140th anniversary of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, which resulted in the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman oppression, Moscow, March 2, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here for a landmark event, the opening of an exhibition of archival documents and photos dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman oppression.
The exhibition features over a hundred documents and photos from the Archive of the Russian Foreign Policy, the Russian State Military-Historical Archive, the Russian State Film and Photo Archive, and from several private collections. Many of these documents are unique, including the Manifesto of Emperor Alexander II of April 12, 1877, which states the readiness of the Russian people for “new sacrifices to ease the fate of Christians on the Balkan Peninsula.” The exhibition also displays the Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, and the appeal of the Bulgarian people to Chancellor Alexander Gorchakov for protection. In response to this petition and in accordance with the Emperor’s order, our predecessors pursued a principled policy in support of establishing a united and autonomous Bulgaria. From June 1876 to April 1877, Chancellor Alexander Gorchakov took part in tense talks and did everything in his power to settle the situation through political and diplomatic means. On the eve of the signing of the Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, Gorchakov advised Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Empire to the Ottoman Empire Nikolai Ignatyev, who led the talks, to stand ground in everything that concerns Bulgaria.
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 plays a special role in the history of our bilateral relations. The friendship between our peoples was sealed with blood that was spilled for justice. Today we pay our tribute to Russian warriors and Bulgarian militia who fought together in the harshest conditions for the independence of the Bulgarian nation.
We appreciate that our Bulgarian friends have eternalised the memory of such prominent commanders as generals Mikhail Skobelev, Iosif Gurko, Eduard Totleben and Mikhail Dragomirov. Our friends carefully preserve the memory of Russian soldiers and officers who sacrificed their lives for the victory.
I am confident that the Russian-Bulgarian fellowship, our common cultural and spiritual heritage, is the unbreakable foundation for the progressive development of bilateral ties and cooperation in all areas, from politics and the economy to culture and tourism. Our exhibition marks the anniversary. I am sure you will enjoy gaining new insights into this era, which deserves to be cherished by our countries and our peoples.