“Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” European Achievement Award

On this occasion of PanEuropa 90th anniversary in 2017 we have decided to found a yearly prize bearing the name of the organization’s founder – prof. Ivan Shishmanov. The award is given to people who have significantly and consistently contributed to Bulgaria’s adoption of European values.


2017 – Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (2001-2005)

2019 – Petar Stoyanov, President of Bulgaria (1997-2002)

2022 – Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine (2019 – present)

2023 – Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland (1990 – 1995)


The award election committee is comprised of notable figures from political, academic and cultural life:

1. Prof. Andrei Pantev, MP (2001 – 2013)

2. Ambassador Bisserka Benisheva, Director “EU Affairs”, PanEuropa Bulgaria

3. Boyko Vassilev, Journalist

4. Boyko Kadinov, architect

5. Prof. Ingrid Shikova, lecturer in “European Union politics”, Sofia University

6. Maksim Minchev, Chief executive officer of the Bulgarian News Agency

7. Petar Stoyanov, President of Bulgaria (1997-2002)

8. Plamen Rusev, entrepreneur

9. Rosen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria (2012 – 2017)

10. Prof. Rumiana Koneva, director of the “Haus Wittgenstein” cultural institute

Who is Prof. Ivan Shishmanov?

A Bulgarian writer, ethnographer, politician and diplomat – The first Bulgarian Pan-European

Ivan Shishmanov was born on June 22, 1862, in Svishtov in the Shishmanov family. He studied at the Pedagogical School in Vienna from 1876 to 1882. He then studied philosophy and literature at Jena in 1884 and spent two years in Geneva. In 1888, he finished his Ph.D. studies in Leipzig under the direction of Professor Wilhelm Wundt.

In 1894 Shishmanov became Professor of General Literary and Cultural History and comparative literary history. He was also the founder and editor of the Folklore and Ethnography Collection (СбНУНК) from 1889 to 1902 and the Bulgarian Observer magazine from 1893-1900. Shishmanov was a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He was also one of the founders of the State Drawing School, which later became the National Academy of Arts (1896).

Shishmanov was a member of the People’s Liberal Party, and in 1903 he became Minister of Public Education, but in early 1907 he left office because of disagreement with the government’s actions during the University crisis. As a minister of education, he opened the school for the blind in 1906. 

Shishmanov acted as a plenipotentiary representative of Bulgaria in the Ukrainian People’s Republic during the reign of Pavlo Skoropadsky in 1918-1919. King Ferdinand I sent him to Kyiv. He founded and served as the first president of the Bulgarian Department of the Pan-European Union.

He was married to Lidia Shishmanova. His son, Dimitr Shishmanov, writer and politician, was executed by the People’s Court due to his work as the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then the Minister of Foreign Affair.

Prof. Ivan Shishmanov died in Oslo on June 23, 1928, at the age of 65.

Fourth “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” Award Holder is

Lech Wałęsa

The fourth award “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” was presented to Lech Walesa for his contribution to democracy in Eastern Europe. The legendary leader of Solidarity celebrated his 80th anniversary in September 2023 and the guests of honour, Gergana and Solomon Passy, presented him with the European Contribution Award “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov

Lech Walesa was born on 29 September 1943 in Popowo, Poland. He is an icon of the resistance against the communist regime in Poland and one of the founders of the independent trade union Solidarity, which played a key role in changing the political landscape in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1980, after a series of strikes and protests, Walesa became the leader of Solidarity and a leading figure in the movement for democratic reform in Poland.

His decisive stance and inspiring leadership led to Poland’s first free elections in 1989, which marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in the country.

In 1990, Walesa became Poland’s first democratically elected president since World War II. As president, he continued his efforts to integrate Poland into European institutions and strengthen the country’s democratic structures.

Wałęsa has also been an active advocate of the expansion of the European Union and NATO to their eastern neighbours, believing in the strength of European integration and the importance of preserving peace and stability on the continent.

In recognition of his efforts for peace and freedom, Lech Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. He continues to be an active participant in global and European political discussions, upholding his values of democracy, freedom and human rights.


Third “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” Award Holder is

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

The third prize was awarded in 2022 to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for his actions during the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Oleksandrovich Zelensky was born on 25 January 1978 in Kriviy Rih, then in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20, 2019, was attended by various foreign dignitaries, including leaders from Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the European Union and the United States. During his inauguration speech, Zelensky dissolved the Ukrainian parliament and called for early parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for October of that year. The move led to the withdrawal of one of his coalition partners, the Popular Front.

In April 2021, in response to the Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, Zelensky spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden and urged NATO members to expedite Ukraine’s membership application. Since then, Zelensky has engaged in numerous cooperative talks to rally support from NATO and EU countries.

PanEuropa Bulgaria was able to personally present the award to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his official visit to Bulgaria on 6 July 2023, at the National History Museum during his meeting with politicians, public figures and journalists.

Second “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” Award Holder

Petar Stoyanov

The second prize was awarded to Petar Stoyanov, in 2019, for his contributions to the resolution of the Kosovo crisis. Petar Stoyanov was born on 25 May 1952 in Plovdiv. In 1994 he was elected as a deputy to the XXXVII National Assembly. In the same year, he became Deputy Chairman of the SDS Parliamentary Group and Deputy Chairman of the Youth, Sports and Tourism Committee. In 1995, he was elected as a deputy chairman of the SDS in charge of domestic policy, a post he held until 1996 when he became President of the state. From 2005 to 2007 he was the Chairman of the SDS. On 2 November 1996, he was officially elected as the President of the Republic of Bulgaria with 2,502,517 votes or 59.73%.

At the request of President Stoyanov, the Caretaker Government officially submitted a request for Bulgaria’s membership in NATO. Petar Stoyanov also played an important role in resolving the Kosovo crisis, strongly supporting the Alliance.

During his presidency, Bulgaria entered active negotiations for accession to the European Union, ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and became a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

First “Prof. Ivan Shishmanov” Award Holder is

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

The first prize was awarded to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 2017 for his contributions as Bulgarian Prime Minister at the time the Bulgarian EU Accession Treaty was signed.

Son of King Boris III and Queen Giovanna, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha was born on June 16, 1937 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Upon the sudden death of King Boris III in 1943 and following a referendum King Simeon II and his family were forced to leave Bulgaria, spending long years of exile.

In 2001 Simeon II proclaimed his decision to return for good and to contribute actively to the country’s revival, by employing the experience and contacts he had amassed in exile. He proclaimed his intention to form a new political entity – the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) – dedicated to high political morale and integrity. The Movement joined the parliamentary elections in 2001.

After a landslide victory for the NMSII, Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria on July 24, 2001. He completed a successful 4-year term of office in a government coalition – the first post-communist cabinet to end its mandate with enhanced public approval. During the term of the NMSII governance, Bulgaria attained the strategic national ideals of joining NATO and signing the Treaty of Accession to the European Union.