24.02.2010 @ 09:47 CET
An internet pressure group composed of more than 300 Bulgarians on Tuesday (23 February) forced European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to clarify a controversial speech in which he confined Europe's cultural and historical roots to "Middle Age Latin Christianity" and 18th century Enlightenment.
The Bulgarians signed up to a Facebook cause urging Mr Van Rompuy to apologise or explain why he ignored their 1,300 plus year-old state along with Ancient Greece, Rome, the Byzantine Empire, the Thracian and Slavic civilisations, Orthodox Christianity and the Cyrillic Alphabet.
Addressing the public at Alliance Francaise in Paris last month Mr Rompuy said: "There are three moments of unification (of Europe). Since the 1960s we are in the third - that of economy and politics ...The first two moments of European unification have been primarily the Latin Christianity of the Middle Ages and the Republic of Letters (The Enlightenment) of the 18th century."
Bulgarian daily Trud accused Mr Rompuy of "drawing division lines" in Europe. The article stirred public discontent and hundreds of people signed up to a Facebook group in support of asking the former Belgian prime minister to explain himself.
Nadya Boneva, a 43 year-old civil engineer and founder of the initiative, wrote to the EU president personally and quickly received a reply: "I am ...very sorry to learn that you feel that an important part of Bulgarian history was left out," said the letter.
"There was no such intention. You can be assured that I am fully aware of the importance of Ancient Greece and Rome for our common civilisation. I am also aware of the important role Bulgaria and other civilisations have played ever since the early Middle Ages in the life of Europe," it continued.