On November 18, the  Community Cultural Centre "Ivan Vazov - 1947" in Kostinbrod was filled with music and flavours, smiles and positive energy.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the Republic of Bulgaria, the Municipality of Kostinbrod and the Association "Spectrum 21 Century" presented to the residents of the town and its guests "A String of Beauty from Morocco and Shopluka".

The event was dedicated to the 67th anniversary of the Three Glorious Days - the return of King Mohammed V from exile, the Renaissance and the Independence Day of the Kingdom of Morocco and the 15th anniversary of the Association Spectrum 21st Century. It is a consecutive event of the Association's initiative "Show Tradition! Let's celebrate together!". "A String of Beauty from Morocco and Shopluka" was attended by Н. E. Mr. Fahd Ibrahim Al-Mushairi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Qatar, H. E. Dr. Jelko Jovic, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Serbia, H. E. Mr. Raimund Furrer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Swiss Confederation to the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as the Chargé d'Affaires and diplomats from the Embassies of the Republic of Iraq, the State of Kuwait, the State of Libya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and others. Among the guests from Sofia were Princess Kalina with her husband and her son Prince Simeon Moulay Hassan, prominent Bulgarian professors, French language teachers, representatives of business and medias. Among those from Kostinbrod: the Chairman of the Municipal Council - Dr. Atanas Tenev, deputy mayors, municipal councilors, school principals, residents of the municipality.

First all present were welcomed by the Mayor of Kostinbrod Municipality - Mr. Trayko Mladenov. He said that it was an honor for him to host such a cultural event and to share with his fellow citizens this moment of joy for the Moroccan people, namely the Three Glorious Days - the Return of King Mohammed V from exile, the Feast of the Renaissance and the Independence of the Kingdom of Morocco. He also expressed his best wish to establish fruitful cooperation in the near future, especially in the economic and cultural spheres, between Kostinbrod and the cities of Morocco. He also congratulated the Spectrum 21 Century Association on its 15th anniversary.

He then proudly shared that, "just over a month ago, our municipality was awarded the prestigious Council of Europe European Label for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level in 2022. It was presented to us at this year's awards of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria. Only 22 municipalities among the 265 presented received such recognition."

And the Mayor is right to be proud of what he has achieved. At the end of the last mayoral term, Kostinbrod Municipality received another prestigious award. "Mayor's BG" awarded it the first place in the "Investment and Jobs" category for the 2015-2019 term. In fact, the awards are many and cannot be listed. But they are well deserved...

Kostinbrod Municipality has developed EU projects under various operational programmes, with funds amounting to over 150 million leva. It is no coincidence that in 2016 the Bulgarian Investment Agency named Kostinbrod the town with the most investments per capita. There are 6 300 BGN of investments per person in European projects. At the same time, large enterprises contribute a solid income to the country's Gross domestic product.

The inhabitants of the municipality directly feel the power of European solidarity: through an environmental project - for water supply, sewerage, sewage treatment plant and correction of riverbeds; through another for the renovation of childcare and school buildings under the energy efficiency programme; through another for playgrounds for the children, etc.

The well-developed infrastructure of the municipality strengthens the investment interest in its territory. The powerful metropolitan infrastructure complex near by, including a branched rail station area, an airport complex with developed connections to the whole world, an extensive electricity, transport, gas and water supply system, etc. also add to the interest.

The natural and climatic conditions of the territory and the stable and favourable ecological characteristics are good prerequisites for the development of food industry, market gardening, scientific research.

A relatively high level of education and the availability of a skilled workforce are also important conditions for a long-term policy to attract investors. Many companies are currently in the process of redevelopment and redesigning. Tens of millions of euros have been invested in the last 8 years in the territory of the municipality of Kostinbrod for the construction of production facilities and the trend is for this to continue on an even larger scale. All these facts suggest an increased interest in establishing and creating new business contacts not only in Bulgaria but also throughout the European Union.

E. Ms. Zakia El Midaoui, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Bulgaria, turned to the guests with her speech:

It is a great honour and joy for me to be with you today at the opening of this cultural event, which I whole heartedly wish to be a prelude to a long series of similar events and to a fruitful cooperation covering various areas of mutual interest between the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the Republic of Bulgaria and the Municipality of Kostinbrod.  

First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Trayko Mladenov, Mayor of Kostinbrod, and his efficient team for their valuable contribution to make this event take place under the best conditions and to allow the citizens of Kostinbrod to immerse themselves in some aspects of Moroccan culture, however brief this moment of sharing and communication, that fills us with joy.

Our event coincides with the celebration of the 67th anniversary of the Three Glorious Days of the Moroccan people from 16 to 18 November 2022, namely: the return of His Majesty King Mohammed V from exile, the Renaissance and the Independence Day, which symbolize the victory of the common will of the King and the people in the national struggle for freedom, dignity, independence and unity. We are happy to share with you this memorable moment in our modern historical journey, which every Moroccan celebrates with pride and enthusiasm.

The epic of the liberation of our homeland from colonialism is the result of the responsibility to the historical contract between the Alaoui Dynasty, the people and the national movement. This historical page symbolizes the victory of the nation's causes and its supreme interests in regaining its legitimate rights to freedom and independence.

The process of decolonization and the completion of the territorial unity of the Kingdom continued under the leadership of His Majesty King Hassan II with the restoration of the city of Sidi Ifni in 1969, the southern provinces in 1975 and the province of Oued Edahab in 1979.

Today, the Moroccan people are living in a new era under the competent leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who has worked tirelessly to consolidate the pillars of the rule of law and institutions and to elevate Morocco's place among peoples and nations, within the framework of the symbiosis between all categories of the Moroccan people and its different living forces, to face the challenges of the third millennium and win the pledge of global, sustainable and inclusive development, while strengthening the construction of a new, modern, stable and democratic Morocco.

Ms. Ekaterina Pavlova, Co-Chair of the Spectrum 21 Century Association and Editor-in-Chief of Diplomatic Spectrum, said that on 17 November - 15 years ago, together with Hristo Paskalev-Paskal (chairman of the Association) and friends she founded the Spectrum 21 Century Association. Over the years it has successfully implemented a number of cultural initiatives, one of which is "Show the tradition! Let’s Selebrate Together!". Its aim is to show the beauty and diversity of Bulgarian holidays and traditions to the representatives of foreign missions in our country, and vice versa - of foreign holidays and traditions to the Bulgarian audience. So far, a number of events have been held under this motto. They have presented various holidays or traditional crafts such as: carol-singing, Baba Marta, Lazar, Easter, Nowruz, pottery, national costumes... in cooperation with embassies and a number of other partners.

"Tonight I would like to say a very special thank you to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Bulgaria, Mrs. Zakia El Midaoui, for taking the initiative outside Sofia, touring dozens of towns and villages in the country, and making thousands of Bulgarians happy. Thank you, Your Excellency!

The Mayor of Kostinbrod Municipality, Mr. Trayko Mladenov, and I have long talked about presenting the Shoppes tradition to the foreign missions and giving a chance to celebrate to the inhabitants of the town. Due to various circumstances – being busy, pandemic, we kept postponing. But here, thanks to him, tonight our eyes will be filled with beauty. Thank you, Mr. Mayor!

Thank you also to all the participants of the "A String of the Beauty from Morocco and Shopluka". Because each and every one of them helped us create it.

And finally, I want to share - tonight has tremendous sentimental value for me. Because not far from this hall, on this land, in Maslovo, I spent my childhood, because here, on this land, in Maslovo, was born and spent a large part of her life the most wonderful woman in the world for me - my mother. I soon lost her, but if she were with us now, she would be proud and happy. Deep in my heart, I dedicate this evening to her... And to this land, soaked in the fragrance of lilacs and ivy, where the tinkle of mandolins turns the night..."

The song "Fatherland" by Hristo Paskalev-Paskal sounded then in the hall, which changed the mood. The singer's voice - baritone, gentle, warm and deep, moved everyone.

And after it, the song "A toi" made the Francophones and French chanson lovers present loudly applaud. Because the evening had a French accent.

It was announced by the hosts - Teresa Vlasaykova and Lilyana Ivanova. They presented the Moroccan writer Abdelaziz Errachidi, who was in Bulgaria for the first time, at the invitation of the Association of Teachers of French.

He was born in Zagora in Eastern Morocco in 1978. He teaches Arabic literature at the University of Kenitra. He is the author of novels and collections of novellas and essays. He has won several literary prizes. In 2009-2010 - in the framework of the Beirut 39 projects - he was honored as one of the most promising Arab writers. Abdelaziz Erashidi is not only a teacher and writer, but also an organizer of international folklore festivals and the festival of fairy tales and folk arts. His collection of novellas "The Pain of the Sands" was translated into Bulgarian in 2021 and is part of the cultural dialogue project between Bulgaria and Morocco of the Association of Teachers of French in Bulgaria and the Dance Formation "Sophistic-Live". The project was supported by the Bureau of the International Organization of Francophonia for Central and Eastern Europe, the International Federation of Teachers of French and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Bulgaria.

The presenters read short excerpts from his novels "The Pain of the Sands" and "Solitude". After which Ms. Vyara Lyubenova, President of the Association of the Teachers of French, shared with the audience that their participation in the celebration was the only one in Abdelaziz Errashidi's program outside Sofia, and the only one in a more artistic format. And he himself said he was extremely happy about it.

After the emotional lyrics about the desert, on the stage...

The beautiful girls from Shopluka, under the sounds of Moroccan music, presented the beautiful kaftans and takchitas of Morocco. They did this with exceptional elegance and finesse through a parade that ended with a unique wedding dress. This was followed by three Moroccan dances presented with the assistance of the Association for Bulgarian-African and European Cooperation.

Then, the Shopluka made the foreign and Bulgarian guests dumbfounded by the beauty of the swirling dances from Shopluka. The Kostinbrod ensembles - "Horo" at the People's Chitalishte "Ivan Vazov-1947", "Zora" at the People's Chitalishte "Zarya-1914" and "Ritmi" at the People's Chitalishte "St. St. Cyril and Methodius-1890", made performances worthy of the world stage. It was no coincidence that after their performance Abdelaziz Erashidi asked Mr. Alexander Nenov, Deputy Mayor in charge of Education, Culture, Social and Humanitarian Activities, if he would assist their participation in the folklore festivals in Morocco.

The end of the activities on the stage in the big hall came, but that was not the end of the celebration.

Beauty continued to show. In the small lounge, all guests could enjoy the tea ceremony by tasting Moroccan tea with mint, sweets and cookies. As well as view the exhibition revealing the amazing history and culture of Morocco.

In the lobby, they enjoyed a bazaar of Moroccan handicrafts, the highlight of which was Argan oil, inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2014.

Earlier, promotional films about Morocco and the municipality of Kostinbrod were screened in the large hall.

The dignitaries then had the opportunity to exchange contacts and ideas in the renovated Ritual Hall at a cocktail dinner given by the City Hall and the Moroccan Embassy. The specialties of Moroccan cuisine, especially the couscous, as well as the typical Shopski dishes, wowed everyone. The students of the Catering and Restaurant Management class at the St. George the Victorious Vocational School contributed to the success of this part of the evening.

At the end, each of the official guests received specially prepared souvenirs and  promotional materials from the Kostinbrod Municipality.

And for the organizers there was a surprise - a gift set from EO Dent Dental Clinics, represented in the evening by Dr. Magdalena Hristova and her colleagues. 

In fact, many people from the team of the Municipality and Community Cultural Centre "Ivan Vazov - 1947" and especially Mrs. Bistra Boyanova, expert "Events Organizer, Public Relations and International Activities", helped for the good organization and successful running of the event.

Yes, the beauty was created especially for the residents of Kostinbrod and their friends. 

The photos are kindly provided by Kostinbrod Municipality.  Photographer: Todor Todorov