Archimandrite Parthenius winner of the highest honorary EU prize – “European Citizen’s Prize”

Our Elder and Abbot, Archimandrite Parthenius is one of the fifty laureates for this year’s highest honorary prize of the European Parliament – “European Citizen”. He was nominated for this prestigious reward by Mr Andrei Kovachev, member of the European Parliament.

Regarding his motives for the nomination, Mr Andrei Kovachev, among the other things, stated the following:

“I have initiated the candidateship of Archimandrite Parthenius not just because of his constant effort in overcoming the negative neighbourly relations on the Balkans, but especially because of his active engagement regarding the signing of the Agreement for Friendship, Good Relations and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Macedonia. He and his monastic fraternity of the Bigorski Monastery supported and blessed the efforts of both countries to overcome the political differences which have been amalgamating in years. The nomination was originally approved by the Bulgarian Commission, with the support of my colleagues Asim Ademov, Angel Djambaski and Ilhan Kucuk, and then authorized by the European Commission as well“, explained Andrei Kovachev.

Additionally, the explanation for the prize also mentions the following:

“Archimandrite Parthenius is well known for his respect towards all the people, no matter what their religious, ethnical or racial determination is. He has turned the Bigorski Monastery into a real centre for peaceful coexistence, not just in Macedonia, but also abroad. Archimandrite Parthenius is fully engaged in humanitarian activities and the providing of spiritual and material support, not just to individuals in need, but to entire families as well. Especially important in this aspect is the mission of Archimandrite Parthenius for rehabilitation and resocialization of individuals, mostly from the younger generation, who have succumbed to the heavy addiction to narcotics, alcohol etc. Thousands of young people, under the spiritual guidance and protection of Fr. Parthenius, not only managed to overcome these addictions but also succeeded in fully integrating themselves in the society. Archimandrite Parthenius has taken upon himself a lot of social activities, among which organizing concerts and lectures in the field of cultural inheritance and humanitarian values, at first in the region of the Bigorski Monastery, which later spread all over Macedonia, in Bulgaria, Greece and the whole region. In this way, he contributes to the strengthening and developing of the European spirit and values of people in this region. Through his activities, Archimandrite Parthenius encourages the overcoming of inner divisions among the citizens of Macedonia, as well as their better integration with the citizens of the neighbouring counties.

In 2017 Archimandrite Parthenius and the monastic fraternity of the Bigorski monastery, decisively supported the signing of the Agreement for Good Relations and Cooperation between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria, due to which a long list of unsolved issues between the two countries have finally been tackled, and a lot of problems, amalgamated for centuries, have been solved. In this critical historical moment, Archimandrite Parthenius and the monastery brotherhood had the courage, despite the general negative attitude of the entire country at that moment, to stand behind the truth, behind the messages for good neighbourly relations, for European cooperation and support to the signing of the Agreement. Due to his powerful authority among the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, Archimandrite Parthenius managed to positively influence the public opinion in favour of the Agreement. He publicly stated his, at that moment very unpopular attitude, that ‘the Agreement has been created in the spirit of the European law, without any ambiguous political phrases, without any insults, underestimations, or favouring of one or the other side.’ The integration in the European Union is the only way to overcome divisions and establish balance in the region”, – says Kovachev in his report.

Following the usual tradition, the laureates will receive their honorary medals during the official ceremony in Sofia, this Autumn, organized by the European Parliament Bureau in Bulgaria. Later on, somewhere in November, they will also participate in the main European ceremony dedicated to the Citizen prize of the European Parliament, which is to be held in Brussels.

Since 2008 up to present, the European Parliament presents the prize to citizens and organizations who have given a significant contribution and exceptional dedication to better mutual understanding and further integration among the citizens of EU; a contribution for long-term international and transnational cultural cooperation which strengthens the European spirit; for the enhancing of values described in the European Union Charter for basic human rights. This prize is symbolical and is created in the form of a medal. The European Commission has narrowed the selection to fifty laureates from all the countries of the European Union, but also from countries outside its boundaries.

Archimandrite Parthenius has become the first citizen of the Republic of Macedonia to receive this highest honour of the European Parliament – “European Citizen’s Prize”.