Ambassador Bogdanska told the gathering that the national holiday is one of the unifying symbols of Bulgaria – an ancient state that in its millennial history has never changed its name and has always been called Bulgaria.

One hundred and forty-two years ago, on March 3, 1878, the San Stefano Peace Treaty had been signed, an international act that marked the end of the Russian-Turkish war. Bulgaria's statehood had thus been restored, with the country re-emerging on the map of Europe after 500 years of oppression within the Ottoman Empire.

"On March 3 we not only commemorate the successful end of what we call ‘the liberation war'," Ambassador Bogdanska said. "We pay tribute to the heroism and self-sacrifice of a whole myriad of nationalities and people that contributed to Bulgaria's liberation.

"We bow our heads with gratitude to the self-sacrifice of the thousands of Russians, Finns, Romanians, Serbians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Georgians, Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and others who took part in the war.

"Today, 142 years later Bulgaria is a respected full-fledged member of the EU and NATO, working closely with its partners for a better, prosperous and secure future.

"This year we also mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the present-day Hungarian state, though our friendly relations have millennial history. Bulgaria and Hungary are countries related in their history, proud to preserve their freedom-loving spirit and cherish their cultural heritage and their contribution to the European civilisation."

The ambassador said Bulgaria and Hungary are friendly countries, related historically, politically and culturally, proud to preserve their freedom-loving spirit and cherish their cultural heritage and their contribution to European civilisation.

"Today, united in our Euro-Atlantic family, at a time of intensive political dialogue on all levels and close partnership between our two countries, we work together to meet different challenges related to our common security and economic prosperity, to the future of Europe and its role in a globalised world."

Ambassador Bogdanska said March 1 was a much-loved Bulgarian holiday called Baba Marta, celebrated annually and marked by wearing a Martenitza. Therefore she took the opportunity to extend to everyone her best wishes for health, peace and love, symbolised by the red and white decoration called Martenitza.

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