A new youth bell at the ‘Flag of Peace’ monument near Sofia

A new bell started ringing at the International Children’s Park in Sofia, as a symbol of peace and unity between cultures. The event was an initiative of FTTUB’s Youth committee and their peers from Australia. The inauguration of the new bell took place on 10 August 2017 at the ‘Flag of Peace’ monument within the park, and gathered hundreds of young FTTUB members, citizens, municipal councilors, mayors, MPs, employers’ representatives and leaders from the FTTUB organizations.

ITF’s General Secretary Stephen Cotton and Ekaterina Yordanova – ITF Vice-president and FTTUB president – in front of the bell mounted in 2014 during ITF’s 43rd Congress

Among the official guests have been ITF’s general secretary Stephen Cotton and ITF’s vice-president Ekaterina Yordanova, who is also FTTUB’s president. The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova has also come to greet the young people. Among the official guests were also CITUB’s Vice President Chavdar Hristov, the municipal councilor Veneta Serafimova, who as a child participated in the ‘Flag of Peace’ assembly; the great Bulgarian actress Iskra Radeva, who was also the host of the event, as well as the creator of folklore ensemble “Bulgare” and chairman of the Association ‘Guardians of Bulgarian Spirit’ Christo Dimitrov. Among the guests were a large number of FTTUB’s youth representatives, along with the youth representatives of the International Transport Federation and their coordinator Baker Khundakji.
The ceremony was opened by FTTUB’s Youth Committee co-chair Alina Milusheva, who presented the initiative. She reminded the guests that the installation of the new bell was a next step of the “Echo into the future” initiative, which was launched during ITF’s 43rd Congress, which took place exactly three years ago in Sofia and was hosted by FTTUB.
“The aim of the initiative is to create a bridge between the generations, to send our echoing message into the future – a message from the children of today, but also of the already grown-up children of yesterday’ – explained Alina Milusheva – “The energy and symbolism of this place are unique and important, especially in today’s times of conflict and injustices around the world. We use this monument according to its purpose. Only, this time we pass the torch from the children to the young people – people like us who are about to enter the most active phase in their lives and have the energy and the faith to transform fear, despair and apathy into unity, creativity and beauty “, added Alina Milusheva and thanked the ITF and its general secretary Steven Cotton for having appreciated the potential and power of this idea, and for helping make it come true by providing the support of the youth within the global transport family. She also said that FTTUB’s youth organization is planning an even bigger event for next year – an international youth festival as a follow-up to the children’s assemblies of the late 20th century.

“Today we are here to inaugurate the second bell that is being installed by FTTUB’s initiative in the ‘Flag of the Peace’ Park – a place for recreation; a place where we can teach our children and young people to live in harmony and understanding”, said Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova. She pointed out that this is one more initiative of FTTUB’s, which – together with Sofia municipality – has already implemented a number of social campaigns and programs. In her words, for the last couple of years the municipality has been actively working for the modernization of public transport in the capital: new buses have been purchased; new metro lines are being built; and the working conditions at the transport companies are constantly improving. There are more and more young people working there. The mayor gave Sofia Metropolitan as an example, where 40 per cent of the staff are under the age of 40. At the end, the mayor thanked FTTUB for committing itself to a new public cause for the benefit of the city, and wished success to the initiatives of FTTUB’s and ITF’s youth representatives.

“Our international federation marks the 121st anniversary of its creation, and throughout all these years we have never ceased our struggle for freedom, peace and equality between people. We have come here to claim our support for the efforts of the Bulgarian Transport Federation – FTTUB; and of Mrs. Fandakova and all the citizens of Sofia to turn the capital of this beautiful country – Bulgaria – into an outstanding modern city”, said ITF general secretary Steven Cotton in his speech.

“We can not help supporting such a public initiative promoting peace and friendship between people, we can not help backing the revival of the spirit of unity, creativity and beauty,” said Christo Dimitrov, chairman of “Guardians of the Bulgarian Spirit” association. He pointed out that this is yet another public cause of FTTUB, supported by his association and ‘Bulgare’ ensemble, following the campaign ‘This is my oath’, working to prevent violence against women.

We are here today because we believe in the power of creativity and partnerships for making a positive change. We believe that great ideas transcend time and politics – they belong to the entire nation – in fact the entire humanity.’spoke FTTUB’s president and ITF’s vice-president Ekaterina Yordanova. She reminded everybody that back in its time, the assembly ‘Flag of Peace’ was recognized by international bodies such as UN, UNESCO and UNICEF as a new form of diplomacy and cooperation in the name of peace. Even today, it is in full harmony with the UN’s sustainable development goals. Ekaterina Yordanova pointed out that her presence and this of ITF’s general secretary Steven Cotton is the best proof of ITF’s commitment to the youth initiative. “This is also an example of the international trade union family standing behind the young people to show them how important they and their ideas are.,” Ekaterina Yordanova said. According to her, the significance of the cause can also be appreciated by the presence of the Bulgarian guests of the event: artists, musicians, representatives of the local authorities and employers.

I hope that FTTUB and the great family of international unions will keep on uniting people around meaningful goals, and that our Bulgarian society will keep on supporting the hopes and dreams of our young people, so that the world we live in becomes better with every day!” – concluded FTTUB’s president.

The new bell was officially inaugurated by the co-chairs of FTTUB’s Youth Committee – Alina Milusheva and Georgi Georgiev. Immediately after this, came the big surprise: young members of FTTUB and ITF went on stage with the popular Bulgarian singer Elitsa to perform together the song “Water”.

This was followed by a touching and enchanting performance of the youngest artists from ‘Children’s Cinestudio’ and their art director Tsvete Lozanova. Through dance, they gave their message to the guests: “Pay forward a smile – not a tear; an act of friendship – not of war!”

The program continued with an impressive act the brothers Christian and Martin Pistolsky, followed by the performance of the National Folklore Ensemble “Bulgare” and their solo singer Albena Veskova.

“Echo into the Future” is part of the events organized by FTTUB and its Youth Committee in the period 9-12 August 2017, on occasion of the International Youth Day – 12 August. These have gathered young transport workers, activists of transport trade unions from Bulgaria and Europe, and members of the ITF Youth Committee.