U.S. Department of the Treasury
Washington, D.C.
Office of Public Affairs
November 2, 2000


I am very happy to be here today to represent my Government in the signing of this significant agreement, representing the desire of the United States and Bulgaria to cooperate in the field of cultural preservation.

I am especially pleased that signing on behalf of the government of Bulgaria, is Ambassador Dimitrov, whose leadership and personal courage were so important to his nation's transition to a free and democratic society. It is not very often, that a country sends its former Prime Minister as its envoy to Washington. Mr. Ambassador, we are honored to have you here.
Your presence shows the high importance your government places on its relations with the United States. For our part, the visit of President Clinton to Sofia a year ago and the visits of Secretaries Albright and Cohen and other officials show we place an equal importance on this relationship.

I also want to thank the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad for its work in achieving this agreement. My good friend Mike Lewan and Commissioner Ned Bandler, vice chairman of Freedom House, have worked very hard to make this possible, as have my former colleagues at the Department of State. The cultural heritage of nations goes beyond buildings, historic places and sacred sites, important as they are to preserve and protect. It goes also to the teaching, the learning, the cultural values that make up the soul of a country. The people of your country, Mr. Ambassador, are a mosaic of religious and ethnic backgrounds. They have a long and proud history in the Balkan region. The historian Edward Gibbon noted that in the reign of King Simeon, during the First Empire in the Ninth Century, "Bulgaria assumed a rank among the civilized powers of the earth."

The educational and cultural links between our two countries go back over 100 years, symbolized by the American University in Sofia and the extension work of institutions such as Roberts College. We hope that as a result of this agreement, work can begin on linking cultural institutions in Bulgaria with others in the United States through cooperative projects. I understand that members of the Commission will be traveling to Bulgaria to identify priority projects, in addition to strengthening existing educational relations.

A cultural heritage flourishes, and is best protected, in an atmosphere of freedom, peace and economic opportunity. For most of the 20th century Bulgaria was not truly free and independent. Its people lived under conditions that stifled the human spirit by silencing free speech and expression. Since 1996, your people have shown their determination to advance toward a fresh destiny of democracy and economic progress, in which they and all Balkan countries, in close association with your Balkan neighbors and the other nations of Europe, are able to enter fully into the global economic mainstream with all the benefits that will bring.

Your Government supported the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. Your troops are participating alongside U.S. and other NATO forces in peacekeeping actions in Kosovo and Bosnia.You have been helpful in the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, NATO's Partnership for Peace and other international efforts to bring democracy to Serbia and ensure its peaceful co-existence with its neighbors. Just last month, the leaders of the Balkans welcomed President Kostunica to the summit meeting at Skopje. Your own President Stoyanov said that summit, and the change of government in Yugoslavia through free elections, represented "the second historical chance for our region after the fall of the Berlin Wall."

And so, because we value the role of culture, and because we believe in the future of the Bulgarian people, I am very happy to come to this Embassy to take this concrete step in the partnership for cultural preservation and educational progress between our countries.

Thank you.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information
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