Iran and Bulgaria: The Hubris of Ancient Beginnings

The lavish celebrations of the 1300th Anniversary of the Founding of the so-called First Bulgarian Empire was a curious, very un-socialist matter, steeped in myth and nationalist lore. It appears that an inspiration for this anniversary came directly from the 1971 celebrations of the 2,500th Anniversary of the Founding of the Persian Empire held under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s (1919-1980) auspices in monarchical Iran. The Bulgarian leader, Todor Zhivkov (1911-1998) was invited to Iran on the strength of a hypothetical presence of Turkic-speaking Bulgars in Persia’s Bactria (now in Afghanistan and Tajikistan) during the times of Alexander the Great. But Zhivkov refused to attend, perhaps due to Tehran’s too all intimate relations with the United States. Bulgaria, as a member state of the Soviet bloc, used to pride itself on being the most loyal ally of the Soviet Union. Sending an official delegation could be read at the Kremlin as akin to treason, leading to the swift removal of Zhivkov from the post of the General Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party.


Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria, Shumen

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