Sofia, 13 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov today decorated U.S. financier George Soros with Bulgaria's highest award.
After the ceremony, the Hungarian-born Soros said the state award marked a turnaround from the suspicion toward his pro-democracy Open Society Fund under the former Socialist government.
The leftist press has accused Open Society of promoting Western values at the expense of Bulgarian culture. The Socialist government refused two years ago to contribute some $ 650,000 to the $ 6 million budget of the Open Society's Sofia branch.
This year, Open Society has allocated $ 7 million to sponsor educational and cultural programs in the country. Soros has also donated $ 1.8 million in humanitarian aid to Bulgaria.