The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), successor of the Bulgarian Learned Society (BLS), is the oldest and largest scientific institution in the country, founded nine years before the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. The creation of the Bulgarian Learned Society by individuals who did not yet have their state required great faith and much hope and marked one of the peak events of the Bulgarian Revival.
Among the founders of the Bulgarian Learned Society in 1869, in Braila, there were prominent figures of the Bulgarian Revival such as Marin Drinov (Professor at Kharkov University), Vasil Drumev (later Prime Minister of the Principality of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Tarnovo), Gavril Krustevich (Governor of Eastern Rumelia). This historical act of Bulgaria was a deed of various strata of society: from established names in science to the Apostle of Freedom, Vasil Levski, who was also among its founders and first donors. The highly patriotic spirit of the Bulgarian people stood out particularly vivid in the strong public support that made the Society a unifying symbol of the nation. The founders showed great vision with regard to the administration and the legal framework of the institution by taking care to adopt a Statute and publish the official organ: the Periodical journal of BLS. At the same time, the collecting of a book and a documentary fund, preserved to this day at the Central Library and Archives of BAS, began.
The European prestige of the Society was also raised by European capacities such as Konstantin Jireček, Minister of National Enlightenment and Professor at the University of Vienna. The builders of modern Bulgaria did not forget to allocate funds for the moving of BLS from Braila to the newly liberated Principality. The rise of its scientific status, however, was mostly related to the name of the longest-running chairman, Ivan Evstratiev Geshov, prominent banker, politician and public figure and generous donor of the institution. Owing to his efforts and the attitudes of society, in 1911 the learned society grew into the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Established only with three branches – Historical-Philological, Natural-Medical and State-Scientific, BAS played a role in establishing the young Bulgarian state in the Balkans and in Europe. During these years, its public mission was particularly strong with scientific developments in the area of ethnogenesis of the Bulgarian people, searching for its historical roots and forming a new value system.
After the Second World War, the Academy gradually grew, becoming a poly-structural research institution. Beyond the old focus on fundamental scientific research, the applied and exact sciences began to excel which in the previous decades had been developing mainly in university circles. Thus, its social commitment was meeting the needs of the new, planned economy and the increased economic opportunities of the country. During this period, a number of pioneering developments were carried out at the institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in different areas which provided our country a significant place on the world technological map. It is enough to mention the birth, in the Academy, of such activities and fields as: the electronic industry of Bulgaria, nuclear energetics, robotics, space research, the development of nanomaterials and new technologies, biomedicine and a number of others. All this has helped to raise the fundamental and applied research of the scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences at the world level.
Nowadays, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the largest scientific institution in Bulgaria with proven international authority. It embodies both the traditions of the past and the challenge of the country on the path of its European integration. Inseparably connected with the state, BAS is both a scientific and a public organization – an organic part of the spiritual development of the Bulgarian nation.
In this jubilee year, too, the Academy continues to work for its mission: “to conduct research in accordance with universal values, national traditions and interests, to participate in the development of world science, to study and to multiply the material and intangible cultural and historical heritage of the nation”.
Prof. Julian Revalski, DSc, Full member of BAS
President of the Bulgarian Academy of Science