Bulgaria to join Holocaust international body

Written by on October 4, 2012 in Bulgaria, News, World - No comments

Bulgaria’s Cabinet has approved a proposal for the country to join, as an observer, the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF), the Government’s press service said in a statement.

ITF, which describes itself as “an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance, and research both nationally and internationally”, was established in 1998 at the initiative of the Swedish prime minister at the time, Göran Persson.

It currently has 31 members, including most EU states – only Cyprus and Malta are not, while Portugal is one of three observer countries (along with Macedonia, Turkey and, soon, Bulgaria) – as well as Croatia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Argentina, Canada and US.

“Bulgaria’s joining the group is a logical step, proof of our country’s contribution to the international efforts to clarify historic facts and the common work to spread the knowledge. It is also motivated by the unprecedented contribution of our country through the saving of Bulgarian Jews during World War 2, which is highly appreciated by the Jewish people,” the Cabinet statement said.

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev attends a commemoration service at Sofia synagogue in August, following the terrorist attack in Bourgas, which left five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver dead. Photo: president.bg

ITF member states must support implementation of national policies and programs in support of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. The member states also agree on the importance of encouraging all archives, both public and private, to make their holdings on the Holocaust more widely accessible.

Bulgaria and Israel have had a close relationship over the past decade, which intensified since the current Government took office in 2009, with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov visiting Israel in January 2010, a trip that included a visit to the Yad Vashem memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

In July 2011, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Sofia accompanied by eight cabinet ministers to hold a meeting of the two governments – a rare case of high-level joint engagement by Israel – during which the two countries signed three bilateral agreements on military co-operation, defence industrial co-operation and on research and development in the private sector.

(Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel. Photo: government.bg)

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