Bulgarian Ambassador Affirms Religious Freedom at IRLA Headquarters


L to R: Dr. Jan Paulsen with Ambassador Elena Poptodorova

Silver Spring, MD, USA… The Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Elena Borislava Poptodorova, affirmed the importance of religious freedom at the headquarters of the International Religious Liberty Association.

Referring to the changes in her country since 1990, Poptodorova spoke of “the different kind of effort to gain freedom” which in contrast to fighting for independence was “more complicated; a peaceful persuasion rather than fighting.”

Though at first there had been “a defensive attitude to other religious groups,” the country’s constitution and legislation guaranteed “freedom of all religions,” she said, adding that she personally “firmly believed in free choice.”

Questioned over the recent law on religion, Poptodorova noted objections to two aspects, and stated her “expectation and hope that even these partial inadequacies of this legislation will be taken care of.”

As for local instances of religious discrimination by members of the majority faith, Poptodorova commented that this was more of a reactive instinct to preserve rather than reasoned action. “Educating in the rule of law takes time,” she concluded, “however the very fact that we are open to international exchanges and different visions indicate how much we value tolerance and understanding.”


Dr. John Graz sharing information with Ambassador Poptodorova.

IRLA leaders participated in a recent conference on religious freedom held in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, noted secretary general John Graz. “We appreciate the developments in religious freedom in Bulgaria, and trust these positive trends will continue to develop and progress,” he said.

During the July 8 meeting, the Ambassador was also able to meet Dr Jan Paulsen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and to tour the Church’s headquarters building. In his comments, Paulsen said he “honored and respected the Bulgaria’s Christian heritage that gives inner strength to the nation, and for the liberty extended to religious minorities, including Adventists, to share and witness.” He concluded by expressing his pleasure that “the Church could host the IRLA, a multi-church organization that links with many to preserve religious freedom.” [Jonathan Gallagher]