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Official Visit to Bulgaria - June 19, 20-2003
In Bulgaria
Official Welcome Ceremony
The Talks
Signature of Two Agreements
In Sophia
With the Arab Ambassadors
Meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister Gotha
In Varna
Final Talks
Fares is Awarded the Honorary Golden Medal from Bulgaria October 7, 2003

In Bulgaria
In a two-day official trip paid to Bulgaria, Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares signed on behalf of Lebanon two cooperation agreements in health and in maritime and air transport, along with Transportation Minister Plaman Petrov and Health Minister Bou Haidar Kinkov on the Bulgarian side.

In his talks with the Bulgarian officials, Fares and the Lebanese President evoked the role Lebanon could play as a gate for Bulgaria in the region and exposed the procedures taken by Lebanon to boost its economy and encourage the foreign investors.

On the political level, the Lebanese side reiterates Lebanon’s stance regarding the peace roadmap and its objection to any possible Palestinian settlement on the Lebanese territories. It stressed the importance to include Lebanon in the peace process and underlined the efforts deployed by Lebanon to implement the peace roadmap, saying it should be global and comprehensive.

On his hand, the Bulgarian President Mr. Georgi Parvanov focused on the two countries’ joint interest which require follow-up, pointing out at the necessary and fundamental presence of Bulgaria in the European Union and Lebanon’s signature of the European Partnership Agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister lands from the presidential plane upon his arrival to Bulgaria

Official Welcome CeremonyFares’ arrival with the Lebanese delegation received a warm welcome by the General Secretary of the Presidency of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Secretary General of Foreign Affairs, and Lebanon’s Ambassador to Bulgaria.

The official welcome ceremony took place at the Square of St. Alexander Nevsky where a large crowd of the Lebanese community members gathered. After laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the two Presidents left with the accompanying Lebanese delegation to the headquarters of the Bulgarian Presidency.

The TalksAfter the exchange of decorations between the two Presidents, Fares attended the talks held by Presidents Lahoud and Parvanov before joining the round of talks held in a separate conference room which gathered the members of both the Lebanese and Bulgarian delegations.

Fares joins the members of the Lebanese and Bulgarian delegations for lengthy talks
Signature of Two AgreementsFollowing the talks, President Parvanov and his Lebanese counterpart headed to the Great Hall where they witnessed the signature of two agreements:
  • The first for transportation and freight was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares on the Lebanese side and the Transportation Minister on the Bulgarian side
  • The second for health cooperation was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares on the Lebanese side and the Health Minister on the Bulgarian side.

On behalf of Lebanon, Fares signs two cooperation agreements with Bulgaria

Later, the Lebanese and Bulgarian Presidents held a joint press conference in presence of Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares and the members of both delegations. In the evening, the Bulgarian President threw a dinner banquet in honor of President Lahoud, Mrs. Andre Lahoud, Deputy Premier Issam Fares, and the accompanying delegation at Kempinski Hotel in Sophia, during which took part senior officials representing the Bulgarian State

Dinner banquet in honor of the Lebanese delegation at Kempinski Hotel in Sophia
In SophiaIn Sophia, the official activity concentrated on the regional situation and was crowned with two meetings: The first with the Arab Diplomatic Corps, and the second with the Lebanese community. Also on the schedule were lengthy talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha in which Fares participated. Discussions focused on the regional volatile conjuncture and the latest developments reported in the Middle East region.

With the Arab AmbassadorsThe second day of the visit to Bulgaria was marked by the reunion held with the Arab Ambassadors accredited in Bulgaria at Sheraton Hotel, in presence of Deputy Premier Issam Fares, the accompanying delegation, Ambassador Melhem Mesto, as well as the heads of the Press and Editors Syndicates Mohammad Baalbaki and Melhem Karam. A second meeting took place later with the Lebanese community members during which their living conditions and job opportunities were raised.

Meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister GothaLater, Fares and the Lebanese President met Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha at his residence in Varna Hotel in the suburb of Sophia. A closed-door session was held by the two Presidents during which took part Fares. Discussions revolved around the bilateral relations and means to develop them. Talks also touched upon the regional developments and bilateral cooperation for the Francophonie Summit Lebanon will host in 2004.

The talks were resumed during a business luncheon banquet held by the Premier Gotha, in presence of scores of Bulgarian officials, among who were present the head of the Parliamentary Committee for the Lebanese-Bulgarian Friendship, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Beirut Nichoas Andreev, the Secretary General of the Bulgarian Presidency, and assistants to the Bulgarian Premier.

During the banquet, talks centered upon ways to consolidate bilateral ties, translate into action the concluded agreements, promote reunions among business from both Lebanon and Bulgaria, and to encourage educational cooperation. From Sophia, Fares and the delegation moved to Varna, the third leg of the visit.

Fares, President Lahoud, and the Bulgarian Premier discuss means to promote bilateral ties

Fares meets Premier Gotha on the sidelines of the luncheon banquet
In VarnaFares, President Lahoud, and the accompanying delegation had an official welcome ceremony at the International Airport of Varna where they were hosted by the Governor Yani Yanev and his wife, as well as the head of Varna’s Municipality Kiril Yordanov and a number of officials. In the evening, Mayor Yordanov threw a dinner banquet in honor of the Lebanese delegation.

The following day, Fares attended the meeting President Lahoud held with Governor Yanev. Discussions centered upon the Lebanese-Bulgarian relations, the economic, commercial, and touristic activities in Varna, as well as the means to promote tourism cooperation. The meeting was also attended by Ambassador Melhem Mesto and the head of the Board of Directors the General Director of the National Institute of Administration Mr. Elie Assaf.

Fares, the Lebanese President & the First Lady meet the Director General of the Bulgarian Presidency

Tourism took a large share of the meetings held by Fares, President Lahoud, and the Bulgarian officials with the Governor and Mayor of Varna. Also, the meetings provided an opportunity to assess the latest developments in the Middle East region and to highlight the importance of reaching a just and global solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with the UN resolutions. The Lebanese side grasped the chance to express relief at the achievements realized in Bulgaria, deeming that Bulgaria’s integration in the world economy will contribute in developing the economic relations among both countries through the exchange of expertise and investment.

Final Talks Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares has also attended the bilateral meeting held in Varna between the Lebanese President and his Bulgarian homologue during which they evaluated the outcome of the visit. Talks also touched upon the Middle East situation, mainly the visit paid by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region and the developments in Iraq.

On the heels of the meeting, President Parvanov hosted President Lahoud& Mrs. Andre Lahoud, Fares and the accompanying delegation for dinner. Were sldo present Ambassador Mesto, the Secretary General of the Bulgarian Presidency, and the presidential adviser of the Bulgarian Foreign Affairs.

Fares is Awarded the Honorary Golden Medal from Bulgaria- October 7, 2003Bulgarian Ambassador Nicholas Andreev awarded Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares an Honorary Golden Medal on behalf of the Ministry of Youth& Sports of the Republic of Bulgaria during a ceremony attended by a large number of political personalities, influential figures, and the Ambassadors of France, Romania, the United States, Hungary, Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine, Switzerland, China, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, the European Union, and Greece, as well Stefan de Mistura, the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, and the ESCWA Executive Secretary Mrs. Mervat Tallawy.

On the occasion, Ambassador Andreev delivered the following speech:

‘This medal is a sign of appreciation to the contributions made by the Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Issam Fares for the promotion of bilateral ties. Fares is one of the staunchest defenders of Lebanon the pluralistic, democratic, and free country. Thanks to his good qualities, he owned international respect. This medal is bestowed upon Fares since the Government of Bulgaria awarded him the highest order ever. I am positively sure that each of us has a role to play in our societies through the leaderships in our country as well as cooperation with other countries. Relations between and Bulgaria are stronger than to be defined in words. Numerous are the ties between Lebanon and Bulgaria.’