2 October, 2023
Ivo Panov (photo: Ivo Panov)

An interview on the Bulgarian-Iranian cultural relations and how the Department of Iranian Studies at Sofia University works to develop them

Vladimir Mitev

The orientalist and iranologist Ivo Panov was born on October 5th, 1958 in Sofia. His dedication to the East began with study of Persian Philology at the State University of Kabul (1978-1980) and continued graduating Eastern Languages and Literature at the State University of Azerbaijan (1980-1984). In 2001 he defended his doctorate at Sofia University on theme: New Aspects in the Study of the Poetic Heritage of Omar Khayyam.

At present, Ivo Panov is head of the department for Iranian Studies at Sofia University since the department was founded in 1993. He was also a director of the master’s programme Iranian Studies at New Bulgarian University (2000-2004). He is president of the Association of Friends of the Persian Language and Culture in the Republic of Bulgaria since its establishment in 2008. Ivo Panov leaded section Theory, History and Criticism of Translation at the Union of Translators in Bulgaria (2010-2016) and the Union of Translators in Bulgaria (2016-2019).

He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian writers (since 2002), the Union of Translators in Bulgaria (since 2006) and the Union of Bulgarian Journalists (since 2012).

Ivo Panov is the author of 79 scientific, literary-critical and journalistic publications in Bulgaria and abroad. Author of book prefaces, compiler, editor, reviewer, consultant or translator of more than 50 fiction or science books, four of them published in Iran. His are the monographs Omar Khayyam in Bulgaria (2000), Persian Classical Literature IX-XV (2018) and The Enigma of Omar Khayyam (2019). He is the first Bulgarian having translated the quatrains of Omar Khayyam directly from their Persian originals. In co-authorship with Alireza Pourmohammad, Ivo Panov made it possible for first time in Bulgaria to be translated the first volume of Shahname (The Book of Kings) by Abulgasem Ferdowsi from the Persian original.

Professor Panov, after Bulgaria’s joining the EU, cultural ties between Bulgaria and Iran were intensified. What are the forms of this intercultural communication, and results, seen from an academic perspective? How does the programme in Iranian Studies at Sofia University contribute to the development of Bulgarian-Iranian cultural relations?

Mr. Mitev, you are right that after Bulgaria joined the European Union the relations between Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of Bulgaria have entered into a more dynamic stage. But I assure you these relations in the field of education, science and culture were already working at a high level. Since our Department of Iranian Studies in 1993 was founded, the Iranian state, through its legitimate representatives in Bulgaria, had actively been supporting the development of this academic speciality, both morally and financially. Each year, our students visit Iran at the expense of the hosts for attending language courses with different duration. Cultural and educational excursions for students and professors from the speciality are being organized. The Republic of Iranian finances the publishing of scientific books and translations, related to the culture of Persia and Iran.

Thanks to the generous financial support the Department of Iranian Studies has its own cabinet, two study rooms, one of which is equipped with the recently donated phonetic cabinet and a library, equipped with all the necessary technology. In addition, we have been provided with a satellite system through which we can watch over 20 TV channels in Persian language. Today, in the age of the Internet, this may not surprise anyone, but we had this opportunity much before the global network came into our lives. Thanks to our Iranian friends, our speciality has a library stock now of more than two thousand volumes of scientific and literary books.

Of course, after our accession to the European Union, the Iranian state looks now at Bulgaria also as a bridge between the two sides, and at the Department of Iranian Studies – as an important unit of this bridge. And this is quite natural, and further contributes to the good relations on the scientific and cultural level.

What are the partnerships that the Department of Iranian Studies and Sofia University has with academic institutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran? What international opportunities do the students, doctoral students and teachers from the Department of Iranian Studies have for developing their knowledge of Iran?

Sofia University ”St. Kliment Ohridski” has signed agreements for cooperation, exchange of personnel and scientific production with Tehran University, with the Organisation of Culture and Islamic Relations, with Qazvin University, with Allameh Tabatabai University of Tehran, and we are close to signing of such an agreement with the University of Gilan as well. Our contacts with Qazvin University and Allame Tabatabai University are very active. We held several international scientific forums with them, prepared and printed valuable publications, including the Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts at the National Library St. St. Cyril and Methodius, as well as Astronomical Tables of Yamini. With assistance provided by the Organisation of Culture and Islamic Relations, in Persian language and in Iran, the Slavic-Bulgarian History of Paisii Hilendarsky has been published.

As I mentioned already the students and the professors from Department of Iranian Studies at Sofia University have the rare opportunity to visit Iran for language courses, and they are with duration of one, three and eight months. In all of our contracts with Iranian higher education institutions and organisations there is a clause for exchange of students and teachers. And, our students have already seized the opportunity to enrol in Iran’s masters and doctoral programs.

As for our professors, they are regular participants in international scientific events in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Canada. Of course, for obvious reasons, most often the scientific forums are held in the Islamic Republic of Iran, that is why our presence there is much more intense. Personally, I have already had nearly twenty visits to this amazingly hospitable eastern country. And let me underline again that the expenses for our travelling to Iran are mostly covered by the host country.

What role does the Iranian Cultural Center in Sofia play for promoting the Iranian Studies in Bulgaria? To what extent does the Iranian state support people and institutions dedicated to the study and promotion of Persian language and culture?

Our contacts with the Iranian Cultural Center in Sofia over the years have almost constantly been very intense. And this is quite natural because of the Center being a main institution working to spread of Persian language and culture in Bulgaria. Thanks to the efforts of one of its directors, Mr. Aganuri, who donated nearly 400 volumes of Persian scientific and literary books to our department, a grand project was successfully completed, resulting into publication of the first Large Academic Persian-Bulgarian Dictionary (2009) and the two-volume Bulgarian-Persian Dictionary (2013). And, this achievement has been appreciated both in Bulgaria and in Iran. First, in 2010 I was honoured with a diploma from the Union of Translators in Bulgaria for the scientific revision of the first dictionary. Then in 2014, the two-volume dictionary received the Grand Prix at the 21st Session of the Book of the Year in the field of Iranian studies from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

We shall however not underestimate the role of the Iranian embassy in Sofia, alongside with its specific obligations, also supporting actively the development of the Iranian studies in Bulgaria. The former ambassador of IR Iran in Sofia His Excellency Abdollah Norouzi will be remembered with his distinguished dedication to the iranological work in Bulgaria. During his mandate the scientific and academic projects between Iran and Bulgaria were accomplished mostly thanks to his efforts. Doctor Norouzi was the main force behind the establishment of the Institute for Studies of Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe, which has acted in the last years in parallel with the Iranian Studies at Sofia University, and the Association of Friends of Persian Language and Culture in the Republic of Bulgaria. It is therefore not a surprise that doctor Norouzi was awarded with the highest order which the Republic of Bulgaria grants to foreigners.

The new ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Bulgaria His Excellency Sayed Javad Rasouli also started his diplomatic mission in our country very actively and with results. I hope with joint efforts that we will manage to preserve this high pace of cooperation between the embassy of Iran and our speciality Iranian Studies.

Since 2011, the Sofia University organises Iranian scientific conferences. What is the scale and what is the impact of these conferences regarding international participation, the topics discussed, the reactions in the press and the academic circles? To what extent is the Bulgarian Iranology becoming visible on international scale succeeding to create connections with partners from the region and the world?

Colleagues from speciality Iranian Studies at Sofia University are regular participants in various orientalist forums in Bulgaria and abroad since the speciality was founded in 1993. While as organisers and hosts of international scientific forums we started our activity in 2011 when, within the Center for Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Faculty of Classical and New Philologies, we organised an international scientific conference: Bulgaria and Iran in the Mirror of History (Past, Present and Perspectives). It was followed by the international scientific conferences: Iran and the Balkans in the Mirror of History (Past, Present and Perspectives) (2013), Iran and Europe in the Mirror of History (Past, Present and Perspectives) (2016), Persian manuscripts on the Balkans and in Central Europe (2017), Iran and the World in the Mirror of History (Past, Present and Perspectives) (2019). After each of these scientific events a volume with the presented reports is being published. And the number of presentations and participants seem to be constantly growing.

I would like to point out that if at the conference in 2011 only was attended by few guests from abroad, the conference in 2013 attracted already 11 guests coming from Iran and one from each of the following countries: India, Greece, Bosna and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania and Germany.

For the conference in 2016 we received 80 presentation proposals, out of which the scientific commission selected 40. At that time we received application for presentations by participants from 14 countries, and only from Iran we had 16 candidates. At the conference in 2017 the received proposals were over 80 and the Commission selected again 40. The participants in the forum were representatives of 11 countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosna and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, UK, Iran, Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia. We had 14 participants only from Iran. We received submitted almost 120 reports for the conference taking place on 11 and 12 February 2019, out of which the scientific jury, comprising of 9 professors, 6 associate professors and 5 assistant professors from 4 universities selected 40 works for presentation. We had proposals from participants from 16 countries. Only from Iran we had 22 proposals. Our guests were scientists from various universities and scientific institutes in Iran, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Georgia, USA, UK and others. This entire activity gaining pace since 2011 to now, I believe, speaks itself about a growing international recognition of Bulgarian Iranology.

In the last years the growing Bulgarian-Iranian academic exchange is related to the Bulgarian-Iranian think tank Center for Research on Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe (IBCE), which is headed by Alireza Pourmohammad. What activity did IBCE develop in the past years? What projects are going to be realised in the near future? To what extent does the think tank manage to build bridges between the iranologists on the Balkans and in Central Europe? How does the Islamic Republic of Iran sees the IBCE’s activity?

Thank you for the flattering definition – think tank – which you are giving to our Center. I will be happy if time confirms it.

The Center for Research on Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe (IBCE) was created in 2016. According to its founding statute the goals it pursues are: realisation of scientific and cultural researches on national and international level with scientists whose interest is directed towards research in the field of contacts between Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe; cooperation with scientific research organisation and foundations for realisation of scientific and research projects; encouraging of researchers and honouring of established scientists; realisation of scientific, research and technical activity; organisation and realisation of scientific forums on national, regional and international level; publishing of books, scientific volumes and magazines…

I am happy to be one of the founders of this Center and member of its governing body. Not least, I am happy to be able to work with its head Alireza Pourmohammad who has been teaching in the Sofia University various disciplines of Iranian Studies. I am happy that thanks to this Center I can continue my intensive contacts with doctor Abdollah Norouzi. I am even happier that this Center is not a competitor to the speciality Iranian Studies but its real partner with whom they go hand in hand on the multidimensional road of Iranian studies.

I will only point out that all the cultural and scientific events, which took place after 2015 are the result of successful cooperation between speciality Iranian Studies, Center for Research on Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe and Association of Friends of Persian Language and Culture in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Apart from the described already international conferences let me mention the specialised seminar with international participation being on the topic of translation of various kind of contemporary Iranian prose. The seminar partner was the Union of Translators in Bulgaria, and it took place in the Sofia University in May 2018

In the near future the Center has a few extremely interesting project to accomplish but I prefer not to reveal them and allow the Bulgarian cultural and scientific society learn about them at the right time.

Regarding to what extent the Center has created bridges between the iranologists from the Balkans and Central Europe, I believe that the bridges between Iranologists from the Balkans and in Central Europa are built and stay on a solid foundation.

To your last question about my opinion on how the Islamic Republic sees the IBCE’s activity, I will not feel comfortable to reply on their behalf. But I believe that it couldn’t be any other view on its activity except a positive view. The support we receive so far from the Iranian institutions confirms this opinion of mine.

Everyone who has touched Iran observes the enormous respect with which book and written word are treated in Iranian culture. In the past years we have observed various translated and originally published books in Bulgarian language which contribute to the cultural approximation between Iranians and Bulgarians. Which are these books and how are they welcomed by the reading people in both countries?

You are very much aware of Iranians’ attitude towards the book. I fear that many people don’t have an idea about the pedestal upon which book is put in this nation’s life. Back in the medieval times when one Persian ruler wanted to express his gratitude and desire for peaceful neighbourhood relations towards an equal, the ruler sent him a long caravan with various expensive gifts. The first camel in the caravan always carried one and only gift, the most precious one – a book written by calligraphers whose leather cover was encrusted with precious stones. This book usually was either the Quran or Shahname (The Book of Kings) of Abulghasem Ferdowsi. This attitude towards the written words is preserved in Iran until today. The Iranian State sponsor the edition of books, which can be afforded by everyone. Today on the book market there are books with unique typography from various ages, different languages, literary and scientific, specialised and for the wider public…

With the support of the Cultural Center at the Iranian embassy in Sofia large number of books was published in Bulgaria in the last two decades. I am convinced that they have brought the Bulgarian readers closer to the Iranian culture. The numbering of these titles is a difficult task. I will limit myself with only a few of them.

The first translation of an Iranian author belonged to our colleague Marta Simidchieva, who teaches Persian literature in the York University in Toronto. She translated the novel The Headmaster by Jalal Al-Ahmad, who is one of the most famous contemporary Iranian authors.

Then followed the printing of my translation and commentary on Omar Khayyam’s quatrains in Bulgarian and English language. They were published by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in 1998. The next year the book was republished in Bulgaria by the academic publishing house Prof. Marin Drinov. Then followed another edition in pocket format, so that the lovers of East’s philosophy could enjoy it any time and at any place. I was even more surprised when two other Iranian publishing houses – Safir-e Sobh (first edition – 2000, second edition 2001) and Bod Bodak (2012) published Omar Khayyam quatrains in a bilingual edition preferring not to make their own translations into English of Khayyam’s texts, but to trust the translations of a foreigner – a Bulgarian – me. To be completely sincere, the second publishing house has indicated using both mine and Eduard Fitzgerald’s translations. There’s no greater compliment than to have my name standing next to the name of the first translator of Omar Khayyam’s quatrains.

In 2000 publishing house RadarPrint printed the historic-critical work Omar Khayyam in Bulgaria for which I received a diploma from the Union of Translators in Bulgaria – section Theory, history and criticism of translation.

In 2001 the professor of Iranian Studies Lyudmila Yaneva published the compilation Light and Shadow which contained the most emblematic works of the most translated Iranian author and playwriter Sadegh Hedayat.

Then followed the first three manuals of Persian language for our students whose authors are the colleagues iranologists Iveta Zlatarova, Angel Orbetsov and Lyudmila Yaneva.

In 2012 together with the Iranian lecturer of Iranian Studies Alireza Pourmohammad we translated a part of Shahname (Book of Kings) by Abulghasem Ferdowsi. The book was printed in a luxurius, superluxurios and bibliopole variant by publishing house Emas. We were awarded for this translation the Special Award of The Union of Translators in Bulgaria while the project itself received the big annual award Bronze Lion 2012 of Association Bulgarian Book. A curious detail is that in 2013 at the regular annual auction which the diplomatic corpus makes in Bulgaria and where funds for orphanages are gathered, the bibliopole variant received the incredible price of 6000 leva. This is the highest price, which was given at this auction. The example is telling.

I’ve already mentioned about the published dictionaries and about the received awards.

Speaking about dictionaries, we shouldn’t miss the very interesting and useful book by doctor Hajjar Fiuzi – another long-time lecturer in our speciality, book called Persian Words in Bulgarian language. It has undergone three editions and enjoys great interest not only among our students, among linguists and lovers of historical linguistics, but also among our widest reading public.

In 2015 on our book market came out another curious book The Ancient Persian medicine (Avestian medicine tradition and some parallels with Bulgarian folk medicine) that is now depleted. Its author is doctor Slavyan Stoilov – the doctor of the two interdisciplinary scientific expeditions that took place on the territory of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan (2008) and Iran (2010) in search of the roots of ancient Bulgarians.

The last two years were very favourable for me. In 2018 my monography Persian Classical Literature (IX-XV century) Volume I came out. A few months ago the publishing house Panorama at the Union of Translators in Bulgaria published another monography of mine The Enigma Omar Khayyam. Volume I.

Recently has been published also ”Book on Iran. History of Art” by Habibollah Ayatolllahi, translated by our talented former student and lecturer Diana Bratoeva. The book was published under the edition of Angel Orbetsov which made it even more valuable.

All the presented editions enjoy large reader’s attention. Their circulation is rapidly depleted. We received tens of mails telling us about the interest readers showing in the literature that comes from Ancient Persia and today’s Iran.

Let’s see the interest of Iranian cultural community towards our history and culture. Last year in Tehran in the Institute for Cultural Heritage of the Islamic Republic of Iran, our book Slav-Bulgarian History was presented in Persian language. Among those who were present were the director of the institute engineer doctor Sayed Mohammad Beheshti, the ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria in the Islamic Republic of Iran Hristo Polendakov, the deputy rector on educational activity associate professor doctor Georgi Valchev, the Dean of the Faculty of Classical and New Philologies professor doctor Madlen Danova and the two translators of the book – chief assistant Alireza Pourmohammad and me.

Large contribution to the dissemination of Bulgarian literature in Iran has our late colleague Hadi Azadi, a long-time professor in the speciality who translated marvellously some of the most important works of the Bulgarian classical writers Ivan Vazov, Yordan Yovkov, Elin Pelin…

Bulgaria is one of the leading destinations in the region for Iranian tourists. What are their impressions from Bulgaria and the Bulgarians? What makes our country interesting for them?

You are right that there is a growing Iranian interest towards our country year by year. Several Bulgarian tour operator agencies arrange the stay of the tourists from Iran while a large part of our students are invited to work in the summer months as their guides or translators. The growing number of tourists from this relatively distant country, but with close in psychology people, speaks about the influence of our nature, our people and the tourist conditions. Iranian people are known for their hospitality. I hope that their representatives have felt at least a little bit of the Bulgarian one.

Some time ago the Iranian media discovered that there are probably over 1000 words of Persian origin in Bulgarian language. At the same time in Bulgaria it’s been discussed for years that the so-called ancient Bulgarians were of Iranian origin. How did these facts and hypotheses bring about the rapprochement between Bulgarians and Iranians? What is the Iranian attitude towards Bulgarians and what is the Bulgarian attitude towards Iranians today?

It is true. This happened only after the three editions of Persian words in Bulgarian language by Hajjar Fiuzi. There are indeed plenty of words of Persian origin in our language. It is known that a large part of the Persian lexical richness enters our language through intermediate languages. These are first of all the Turkish language, and then the Arabic language, which is the language of one of the most widespread religions in the world – Islam. But there are words common for the Persian and the Bulgarian language and not being present in the intermediate languages. This tells us that ancient Bulgarians and Iranians most probably have been neighbours or have had intensive contacts between them. The last thing is possible only if they have lived in adjacent regions. The correct pointing of Persian words, which are not present in the intermediate languages, could happen only after a linguistic research where iranologists, turkologists, arabists, chinologists, indologists and sanskritologists participate. Ten years ago such a team started to make this research. As a result of almost year of work, 300 common lexical units for just two letter of the Persian alphabet were described, and the comment on them was over 60 pages. Unfortunately, due to unexplained reasons, the funding was not prolonged and the work reached so far only. We are awaiting new sponsorship in order to continue.

The hypothesis for the Iranian origin of ancient Bulgarians exists in parallel to the other hypotheses for our origin – the Turk, the Huno-Altaic, the Ugro-Finic, the Tataro-Mongol and the autochthone. I have already mentioned about the two expeditions, which have directed my attention towards the supposed lands of our predecessors. We came across a lot of interesting facts but unfortunately our research stopped without being able to prove completely the Iranian origin of the ancient Bulgarians. After all, the door remains open but I fear that without lasting interest by our state Institutions and solid funding things will remain only as hypotheses.

Iranians view Bulgarians as kin people, as a people, who have close spiritually, life and culture. The works of Persian classical literature (IX-XV century) are full of mentions of the ethnonym and toponym “bolgar”.

Together with my colleague Alireza Pourmohammad and the indispensable work of the Iranian mapologist prof. Karachanlu and of the National Library of Iran we have brought in Bulgaria 16 medieval Persian works where Bulgarians, their traditions and their states over the centuries are discussed. It remains to translate them into Bulgarian and to publish them. But this requires a solid financial support. We hope that we will find such.

But how do the Bulgarians look at the Iranians? – I believe the Bulgarian Iranologists are obliged and challenged to contribute to the better knowledge of the Iranian great nation with glorious heroic history and rich culture, what few nations in the world can laud with. It is a culture having inherited the spiritual wealth of the ancient Mesopotamian civilisations of Akad, Shumer, Assyria, Urartu, Elam, Babylon and Midia, and then bringing it over the centuries interwoven harmonically with the genius of Persian nation.

Thus, my answer is: Despite the fact that tens of books for the Iranian nation, its history and culture came out in Bulgarian language, the ordinary Bulgarian still doesn’t know well the Iranians and doesn’t have an objective attitude towards them. He sees them as foreigners, as a nation geographically departed, with unknown culture and literary tradition. It means that we still have a lot of work to do.

Bulgaria is a part of the EU for 12 years. How does our country contribute to the relations between the EU and Iran? To what extent Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Iranologists have their added value through studying and knowing of Iran to serve as a bridge between the Islamic Republic and the EU?

The best answer to this question can be given by our colleagues iranologists who work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Angel Orbetsov who is director of direction Asia, Australia and Oceania, Nikolina Kouneva, Irena Gancheva, Georgi Hashev – three absolvents with excellent marks from the speciality Iranian Studies. I will add that a few more graduates iranologists work at the embassy in Tehran, being updated with knowledge, at the other hand functioning within the usual duties – thus, I presume, naturally taking part in the relationship between Iran and the EU. As for the added value, it is sufficient to remind that Iranian Studies is one of the few protected specialities in our high education. It means that Bulgaria needs the specialists we create, they are excellently prepared and very useful for various spheres of social life.

Why is important that Bulgaria and the world know and communicate with Iran today? How does Iran contribute to the world map of culture, ideas and people?

Iran has a special place in the cultural wealth of the world. It is a country with more than 25 centuries of statehood. It is a land of poets, roses, swallows, of graciousness and eastern wisdom, a country of striking contrasts. Iran is a country, which has inherited a powerful culture of the ancient Messopotamian civilisation, has passed through the hell of history, has outlived fearsome invasions, but has survived and has managed to preserve its authentic spirit, its spiritual and national identity.

Few people know that Persian language is spoken in 29 countries in the world. It is the sixth most popular language in the world after Spanish and before German. Persian is recognised as the second classical language after the Greek one, the Latin and Sanskrit being the third and the fourth. From the standing point of proverbs Persian is among the first three in the world while it is one of the richest languages in the world lexically. It can produce millions of words and has no match in this regard with the exception of arabic. Persian language is one century older than the Latin and 12 centuries older that the English language. Among the ten most preferred poets in the world five speak Persian. Persian classical literature is equal to ancient Greek in volume and depth. Persian classical literature emphasizes on philosophical depth, while Western European emphasizes on feeling. Myths, legends, proverbs, aphorisms, fairy tales, songs – all these different genres fill the contains of Persian folk culture and preserve for the centuries the spirituality and the genius of the nation which has created them.

What follows for the Iranian Studies speciality as projects and initiatives in the autumn and next year?

I will not say something new if I admit that the larger part of the projects standing before speciality Iranian Studies are identical with these who stand before The Association of Friends of the Persian language and Culture in the Republic of Bulgaria and before The Center for Research on Iran, the Balkans and Central Europe. In most cases the three entities move together.

The first stage of the research: Persian Book Manuscripts and Documents in Bulgaria, is over. It focused on studying manuscripts in Persian at the National Library St. St. Cyril and Methodius. The goal was reached thanks to the efforts of our colleague Alireza Pourmohammad. The first stage of the research ended up with publishing of a catalogue by The Institute on Cultural Heritage and Tourism of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2018) followed by one more edition with small modifications by the Allameh Tabatabai University of Tehran (2019). The second stage follows – we will study the manuscript in the libraries in the whole of Bulgaria. Beside this, I see two important tasks currently on hold:

As I already said, we need to select the suitable texts from the medieval books, having been brought from Iran on the topic of the Bulgarians and their states, to translate these selections and to release them for scientific studies.

After the large success of the first volume of Shah-name by Abulghasem Ferdowsi, we hope to start the work on the second volume too. But for the moments these amazing tasks remain on hold waiting for suitable sponsorship.

In academic terms, a competition will be held for two assistant places in Persian linguistics which I believe will reinforce our speciality with young and talented specialists. They will be the future of Bulgarian iranology. Also, there will be a competition for two doctorate places – in Persian linguistics and in Persian literary studies. This additionally will strengthen our speciality with new specialists.

In personal plan – after the release of The Enigma Omar Khayyam. Volume I, I am currently preparing to publish the Rubaiat. Omar Khayam. Volume II. I hope to manage until the autumn in order to make a commom presentation of both volumes in Sofia afterwards. I plan also to begin work on the second volume of Persian Classical Literature – IX-XV century.

You are a Khayyamist. Could you finish our interview with a suitable quatrain?

We are the purpose of all Creation!

We are the spirit of knowledge in the eyes of reason!

This round world is like a ring,

and it’s known we are the only precious stone in its ornament!

Read in Romanian language!

Read in Bulgarian language!

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