The young volunteers from the city of Varna’s social professional training center “Dr. Anastasia Geliyazkova” and journalist Hristo Hristov were handed in the honorary medals of the EU Parliament’s European Citizen’s Prize for 2014 at a special ceremony held at the National Assembly.
The laureates from Bulgaria of this year’s edition of the award were welcome in the plenary hall and have met with the President of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva. Guests at the ceremony organized by the Information Office of the European Parliament in Bulgaria and the National Assembly were Members of the European Parliament and of the National Assembly, ambassadors of EU member states, representatives of different state bodies, non-governmental organizations and journalists.
The President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz is to hand in the honorary diplomas to all 47 laureates for 2014 on 25 and 26 February 2015 in Brussels. The prizewinners from Bulgaria this year - the young volunteers who helped the victims of the floods in Varna last summer were nominated by the Member of the EU Parliament from Bulgaria Momchil Nenkov. The investigative journalist Hristo Hristov was nominated by Andrey Kovachev- member of the EU Parliament from Bulgaria. They were voted afterwards by a National Jury and proposed to the European Jury which approved them.
The Prize of the European Parliament“European Citizen of the Year” was started at 2008 and is awarded to citizens and organizations in the EU who have contributed to the better understanding and integration of the EU citizens or have facilitated the trans-border and trans -national cooperation in the EU. It represents a medal of honor and has symbolic nature. The final selection of the last year winners was carried out by an European Jury, presided by the Deputy Chair of the EU Parliament Sylvie Guillaume, comprising the ЕP deputy chairs Olli Rehn, Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Ryszard Czarnecki, by Enrique Crespo (former EU president ), José Manuel Barroso (former president of the European Commission) and Hanes Svoboda (former MEP).
The young volunteers from Varna, nominated by Momchil Nenkov (MEP) with the following arguments:
“In the summer of 2014 Bulgaria suffered a series of strong floods, leading to human victims and causing immense material losses in different parts of the country. At the same time the disasters provoked another phenomenon that I want to focus the attention of the European Parliament on – volunteerism. To help the victims came out children with disabilities, Syrian refugees, representatives of the Jewish and Roma communities in Bulgaria and many, many volunteers from all parts of the country. I would like to focus your attention on the work carried out by the disadvantaged children of the Social Center for Professional Training in the city of Varna “Dr. Anastasia Gelyazkova”. They were one of the youngest volunteers and one of the most active in the cleaning of the affected areas. I believe that their dedication and compassion towards the needy people deserve the prize “European Citizen of the Year “. Their work is, before all, an expression of an active civic attitude that contributes to the development of the most important values of Europe – solidarity and civic involvement. The spirit of empathy of those youngsters had helped the Bulgarian nation to unite around the most important European values like mutual respect, friendship and tolerance. I hope strongly the Jury is to appreciate the exceptional merit of the young volunteers, something that will help strengthening the European spirit of solidarity, compassion and mutual assistance among Bulgarians.
Hristo Hristov nominated by Dr. Andrey Kovachev (MEP from the European People’s Party) with the following arguments:
“With his activity the investigative journalist Hristo Hristov defends the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the freedom of information and expression of opinion. Hristov’s work with archival documents of the 20th century has exposed on many occasions the violation of those freedoms and the many repressions carried out during the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria. He is the author of 8 documentary books, 3 documentary films and a number of media publications calling for rethinking of the totalitarian past. He has published many materials on the so called “Revival Process”, or the forced change of names and the expatriation of the Bulgarian Turks and Muslims. In 2011 Hristov has established and is running since then the site desebg.com. His investigation of the murder in 1978 of writer Georgi Markov in London has been used and quoted by various world media. Hristo Hristov is the only journalist who won court cases for access to the documents of the former State Security Services. In 2004 he won his case in the Supreme Court of Cassation against the Interior Minister for his silent refusal to provide information, and later against the Head of the National Intelligence Service. He is very active in the civil society initiative called: “Clean Voices” which urges for opening of the secret files of the former state security services in Bulgaria as part of the process of reconsidering the past. He has been very committed to this cause throughout the years. For his independent journalistic work Hristo Hristov and his family has been target of psychological harassment and intimidations.