Bulgarian Prime Minister to Receive "Path to Peace" Award

A Boy King Who Returned After 50 Years of Exile

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NEW YORK, MAY 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Path to Peace Foundation will gives its 2002 award to Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who is awaiting a papal visit this month.



Archbishop Renato R. Martino, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, announced the award. The archbishop established the Path to Peace Foundation to carry out projects to support the work of the Holy See´s U.N. mission.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born in Sofia in 1937, the son of King Boris III and Queen Giovanna of Savoia. Upon Boris III´s sudden death in 1943, the 6-year-old Simeon acceded to the throne as King Simeon II.

Two years later, the young king, his sister and Queen Giovanna were forced into exile. They went first to Egypt and later settled in Spain.

After 50 years in exile, in 1996, Simeon II was finally allowed to travel to Bulgaria. Simeon II had been actively engaged in assisting Bulgarian emigrants throughout the world.

In April 2001, Simeon II expressed his wish to return to Bulgaria permanently and to work on behalf of his country.

In a historic address to the Bulgarian nation, Simeon II proclaimed the formation of the National Movement for Simeon II, a non-party political organization intended to attract citizens from across the political spectrum.

The group´s stated platform in the parliamentary election was to establish standards of morality and integrity in Bulgaria´s political life. Having won a landslide victory for the National Movement last July, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was sworn in as Prime Minister.

The Path to Peace Foundation cited "his unrelenting and selfless service to the people of Bulgaria and to the cause of peace throughout the world" in giving him the award.

Past award winners include Corazon Aquino, Lech Walesa and Kofi Annan. The award will be presented to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha here June 19.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will personally meet John Paul II on May 25 during the Pope´s visit to Bulgaria.