The General Director of UNESCO Irina Bokova, the president of the European Association of Folklore Festivals - EAFF Kaloyan Nikolov, the Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Daniel Panov inaugurated a monument of the founder of EAFF and Stara Planina Fest "Balkan Folk" Ilian Nikolov. The solemn ceremony took place in the old Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo.
In her opening speech, Ms Bokova emphasized the importance of culture and the preservation of intangible cultural heritage as one of the most important conditions for preserving the identity of a nation and wished all participants to keep their love for folklore, traditions and art.
"The commemorative plaque of Iliyan Nikolov will remind the residents of Veliko Tarnovo of all his good deeds, his successes and achievments, which are accomplishments of Bulgaria, Europe and the world. The achievements and the good deeds created by this great Bulgarian are cause for pride not only of his fellow citizens, but also for all our countrymen. I believe that the revealing of plaque in memory of Iliyan Nikolov is a great way to demonstrate respect and recognition for his work as a public figure, dedicated to Bulgarian folklore, made great efforts for its promotion", said Ms. Bokova.
She reminded, that the feast has established itself as a movement for preservation and promotion of Bulgarian traditional culture, known as intangible cultural heritage and that is why, in 2003, UNESCO accepted the Convention for the preservation of intangible Cultural Heritage, in the belief that it is the spiritual wealth that every nation created over the centuries and passed down from generation to generation.
"The songs, traditions, crafts, customs form our cultural appearance and creative being. They are the relationship between our past, present and future and therefore must keep them and pass on to future generations. They are the basis on which was built the upbringing, they also encourage our socio-economic development.", emphasized the Director-General of UNESCO.
Аmong the officials of the inauguration of the monument were the District Governor - Prof. Dr. Pencho Penchev; His Excellency Milomir Mihaljevic, Ambassador of Montenegro in Bulgaria; Mohammed Ali Kiani cultural attache of IR Iran in Bulgarlia; Prof. Nikolay Kravtsov, Honored Artist of Russia, Professor, PhD in Art History, Dean of the St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, the winner of the "Golden Book of Motherland"; Kaloyan Nikolov, president of the European Association of Folklore Festivals - EAFF; prof. Dimitar Dimitrov, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at "St. Cyril and St.Methodius" University of Veliko Tarnovo; Colonel. Assoc. Prof. Vasil Madan, vice-rector at "Vasil Levski" National Military University.
As а son, who took confidently in the footsteps of his father for a clean and invaluable inherently cause, Kaloyan Nikolov excitedly and proudly recalled about the 40 festivals in 2007, when he and his father established EAFF. Today members of the Association are more than 270 folk festivals, which makes it the largest in Europe.
Children and grandchildren of Iliyan Nikolov, his relatives, friends, artists and followers laid wreaths and flowers at the monument in appreciation of the work of the great man and the folklore group for spring folklore performed a song, written especially in his honor "Pesen za Iliyan Nikolov".
After the solemn part of inauguration of the monument was held official award ceremony of Mrs. Irina Bokova as bearer of the Honorary Sign of the European Association of Folklore Festivals - EAFF.