Message to the Bulgarian Red Cross

on the occasion of the 130th Anniversary of its foundation
Massimo Barra, President of the Italian Red Cross and Vice President of the Red Cross Red Crescent Standing Commission
From: “Message to the Bulgarian Red Cross on the occasion of the 130th Anniversary of its foundation” Sofia 27/10/2008

GOSPODIN PRESIDENTE, DRAGI PRIATELI NA BULGARSKI CZERVEN CRST, DAMI I GOSPODA’. As Vice Chairman of the Standing Commission it is for me a great honor to be here with you today to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Bulgarian Red Cross, one of the first National Societies of our International Movement to be established, only 19 years after the battle of Solferino, when wise and foreseeing members of the Bulgarian civil society joined together to set the basis for what today is the most important and respected aid organization in the country.

Mr. President, with those wise men you share the same passion and the same commitment, as well as the same vision of a world which is made better thanks to the daily presence of the Red Cross and Red Crescent aside and on behalf of the most vulnerable ones.

It is for this reason that I am particularly proud of the strong partnership that the Italian and the Bulgarian Red Cross Societies have been implementing in the field of home assistance to the elderly since the last 4 years. Thanks to that partnership, more than 100.000 home visits have been carried out to extremely vulnerable people, for whom the Bulgarian Red Cross represents the only support and the only mean of sustainability.

In a globalized world, the Red Cross/Red Crescent is the connecting link between the Governments and the civil society, it is the so-called “Third pillar”, independent from the public authorities and different from the NGOs, thanks to its peculiar status of auxiliarity. The instruments in our hands are powerful: they are our commitment, our daily actions and the “Humanitarian Diplomacy” the mixture of formal and informal relationships that our Movement has with the Governments in order to influence them to act in the respect of our Fundamental Principles, of the International Humanitarian Law and of Human Rights.

It is in the interest of any government to respect the independence of the Red Cross, because it allows them to do things that they probably could not do: to reach the margins of the society, and to get in touch with the most marginalized and vulnerable individuals.

Dear friends let me take this occasion, as I told last week in Zagreb, to invite you all, together with the Youth, the volunteers and the staff of your National Societies, to join the Italian Red Cross, our International Movement and the entire world in Solferino, next year, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the idea of the Red Cross. A visionary idea, which has dramatically grown ever since, and that we have to implement, to defend and to advocate for, both as Red Cross members and as private citizens.