Macedonia decorates former Bulgarian president for recognition of independence

11:30, January 16, 2010      

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Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov awarded on Friday a state order to Bulgaria's former President Zhelyu Zhelev, thanking him for being the first to recognize the independence of Macedonia.

"Today we symbolically recognize a great friend of Macedonia, and sincerely thank him for his personal contribution in the establishment, development and strengthening of relations, mutual respect and trust between our two countries," Ivanov said.

Ivanov said Bulgaria became the first country to recognize the independence of Macedonia 18 years ago under Zhelev's watch and heralded the process of the recognition of Macedonia which seceded and declared independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Zhelev, who was Bulgaria's president from 1991 to 1997, thanked Macedonia for the award, saying that Bulgaria continues to be Macedonia's supporter.

The award, "September 8", named after the country's independence day, is Macedonia's highest recognition awarded to foreigners.

Past recipients include former U.S. ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill and Germany's former President Roman Herzog.

Source: Xinhua
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