SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20
President Clinton and President Stoyanov will participate in a
brief wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Flame. The traditional location
for formal arrival ceremonies, this site commemorates Bulgarias Unknown
Soldier from World War I. It is a simple memorial, with a plaque and an eternal
flame. A military honor guard is usually present.
Photo Opportunity and Bilateral Meeting with President Petar
Stoyanov of Bulgaria
President Clinton and President Stoyanov will be joined by
Bulgaria's Ambassador to the United States, Philip Dimitrov, and Vladimir
Filipov, Secretary to the President on Foreign Policy Issues.
The Presidency is located directly across the street from the
Council of Ministers, and is part of the same complex of communist-era
buildings that is sometimes referred to as the "Largo." It is built in the
Stalinist, neo-classical style and is attached to the Sheraton Hotel. Long-time
communist dictator Tudor Zhivkov had his office here. The first democratically
elected president, Zhelyu Zhelev and his successors have all continued to
utilize this office. President Stoyanov had the communist stars, hammers, and
sickles chiseled off the facade. Ceremonial guards at the entrance wear white
tunics trimmed in red in memory of the uniform worn by Bulgarian freedom
fighters in the 1876-78 war of liberation from the Ottoman Empire.
Photo Opportunity and Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister
Council of Ministers Building
The President and Prime Minister Kostov will be joined by Deputy
Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov, Minister of Finance Muravei Radev, and
Minister of Trade and Tourism Valentin Vassilev.
The Council of Ministers building is part of a complex of
communist-era government buildings in the center of Sofia. Constructed between
1953 and 1957, this central area of cold, Stalinist-era cement block
architecture consists of the north-facing wing of the Sheraton Hotel, the
Presidency, the former Communist Party headquarters, the Council of Ministers,
and TsUM -- the Central Department Store which is currently under renovation.
After a fire in August 1990 (sections blackened by smoke on the white stone
exterior are still clearly visible), the Party abandoned the building. Its most
distinctive feature, a giant red star perched on an 18-meter-high mast, was
removed. For a short time, the building was used as a cultural center. The
luxurious 1,250 seat-congress hall, formerly reserved for party conferences and
meetings of the Central Committee, beautifully decorated with oak, was
converted to a movie theater; the sumptuous lobby, with its 32 multicolored
marble columns and mosaics, functioned as an impromptu bazaar. From 1996 to
1998, it was closed to the public. Recently reopened as St. Sofia Hall, it has
found a new role more befitting its elegance hosting classical concerts and
Roundtable Discussion with Bulgarian Youth
Meeting with Leader of Parliament Yordan Sokolov
National Assembly Building
The President will meet with Yordan Sokolov, the Chairman of the
National Assembly. The National Assembly is located south of Alexander Nevski
Square on National Parliament Square. The building was constructed by a
Bulgarian architect in 1884, five years after Bulgaria won its independence.
The slogan Obedienenieto Pravi Silata ("Unity in Strength") is written
on the main facade. In 1997, angry crowds protesting the Socialist government
damaged the building. In the face of these protests, the government resigned
and new elections were held. The United Democratic Forces (UDF) won those
elections. Since 1989, the National Assembly building has been home to the
first democratically elected national legislature in Bulgaria since before
The National Assembly is situated on the "yellow brick road,"
which stretches across the heart of Sofia. A gift from Emperor Franz Joseph of
Austria in 1907 to his cousin, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, these pale
yellow bricks make up one of Sofia's most distinctive landmarks and lend an
attractive, regal quality to the city's center.
On the square just opposite Parliament is a monument to the
"Tsar-Liberator," Russian Tsar Alexander II, so called because he defeated the
Ottoman Turks in 1879, leading to the re-emergence of an independent Bulgarian
state for the first time in 500 years. Designed by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo
Zocchi and erected in 1905, the 14-meter high statue depicts the tsar riding on
horseback and grasping a declaration in his right hand. Just below the statue
is a sculptural group depicting the goddess of victory -- sword and shield in
hand -- leading the Russian troops and Bulgarian volunteers on one side and the
warm welcome of the Bulgarian people for their liberators on the other. On
three sides of the pedestal base are smaller base reliefs portraying the battle
of Stara Zagora, the signing of the San Stefano peace treaty, and a scene from
the first National Assembly.
Speech to the People of Bulgaria
The President will deliver his speech to the people of Bulgaria in
the square adjacent to the Nevski Church. Completed in 1912 in honor of the
Russian casualties of the 1877-78 war of liberation from Ottoman rule, the
Alexander Nevski Memorial Church is one of the finest pieces of architecture in
the Balkans. Craftsmen and artists from six countries worked on the five-aisle
church for 30 years. They created renowned masterpieces of icons, frescos,
murals, and chandeliers. The interior is adorned with Italian marble, Egyptian
alabaster, Brazilian onyx, gold, and mosaics embodying the spirit of the finest
Eastern Orthodox traditions.
The church was named for military commander and Russian prince,
Alexander Nevski, who defeated Swedish and German expansion into Russia in 1236
and 1240, respectively. He was made a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in
President Stoyanov will be hosting a State Dinner in President
Clintons honor at the Hotel Kempinski, a modern hotel built in the
1980s in downtown Sofia. Prime Minister Kostov, the Speaker of
Parliament, government ministers, members of Parliament and prominent business
people are expected to attend.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23
SOFIA, BULGARIA and SKOPJE, MACEDONIA
and U.S. SECTOR, KOSOVO
The President will have an opportunity to meet Embassy staff and
thank them for their support. The Embassy personnel currently consists of
officers representing State, USAID, Commerce, Defense, Agriculture, and the
Following the embassy event, the President will depart Sofia en
route Skopje, and then on to the U.S. Sector, Kosovo.
Meeting with President of Macedonia
The present Skopje International Airport was built in the
mid-1960s following the devastating earthquake of 1963. After independence was
declared in 1991, implementation of policies aimed at development of amarket
economy and privatization led to the establishment of twoprivate Macedonian
airlines and the beginning of direct flights of private carriers among the
capitals in the region. Nonetheless, the daily number of take-offs and landings
from Skopje was in the low two digits.
During the NATO airstrikes against Serbia in the Kosovo crisis
between March 26 and June 10, however, Skopje airport became an international
hub, with several dozen flights departing and arriving daily, including 747s.
At first, most flights brought in supplies for refugee relief, while other NATO
aircraft brought in military equipment for later use in Kosovo when hostilities
ceased. In addition, the airport became the point of departure for many of the
100,000 refugees who traveled by air to third-country destinations, including
the United States.
The movement of the first of more than 40,000 KFOR troops into
Kosovo began immediately after the cessation of hostilities against Serbia on
June 11. On that day, more than 100 flights arrived and departed from Skopje
airport, a record number that will not be matched in the foreseeable future.
The airport remains busy, however, as the vast bulk of military supplies for
KFOR either moves by train from Thessaloniki in Greece or arrives by air in
Following events at the U.S. Sector and Camp Bondsteel, the
President will depart for Aviano Air Force Base, and then on to Washington,
D.C. He will arrive in Washington early on the morning of Wednesday, November
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only