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Bulgaria Celebrates 114 Years of Independence

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Bulgaria marked the 114th anniversary of the declaration of its independence on Thursday.
On September 22, 1908, following a prayer service at the historic Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs in the country’s medieval capital Tarnovo (North Central Bulgaria), Prince Ferdinand I read a Manifesto proclaiming the vassal Principality of Bulgaria a kingdom independent of the Ottoman Empire. 
The declaration of independence required considerable efforts by Bulgarian diplomacy to secure recognition from Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Russia. At the end of the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, the March 3, 1878 preliminary Treaty of San Stefano ended 482 years of Ottoman rule over Bulgaria but did not make it an independent State. Article VI of that Treaty constituted Bulgaria "an autonomous tributary Principality". Article I of the July 1, 1878 Treaty of Berlin confirmed this status, defining Bulgaria as "an autonomous and tributary Principality under the suzerainty of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan".
In the course of 30 years, Bulgaria gradually repudiated its vassal dependence on Turkey, stopping to pay its annual tax, concluding international treaties, waging a war with Serbia without the Sultan’s sanction and declaring a union with the Ottoman autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia on September 6, 1886.
The declaration of independence officialized the changed situation in the Balkans and the country’s new status as a kingdom in its own right. It extricated Bulgaria from its dependency past and put it back on the European map of independent States. 
A solemn liturgy and peeling of church bells of the Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs early on Thursday morning marked the beginning of the celebrations of the anniversary in Veliko Tarnovo. 
Traditionally, after the end of the service, the Velika Tarnovo’s Metropolitan Bishop Grigoriy performed a blessing of waters and sprinkled the battle flag of  Vasil Levski National Military University with holy water as well as the flags of state and municipal institutions, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. The national flag will be hoisted at the Tsarevets Fortress at 10:30 with a military ritual.
Vice President Iliana Iotova and Mayor Daniel Panov will deliver their festive speeches. Guests and residents of Veliko Tarnovo will lay wreaths and flowers at the Pyramid of Independence. 
At 7:30 pm caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev will join the celebrations with the ceremonial fireworks. A solemn celebration will also take place in front of the Independence Monument in Sofia.  

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