Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin has told the Israeli ambassador in Sofia, Shaul Kamisa-Raz, that Bulgaria’s position on the results of the investigation into the July 2012 terrorist bomb attack at Bourgas Airport has not changed.
Vigenin met Kamisa-Raz on June 10, the Foreign Ministry said.
Among the topics discussed was the excellent co-operation between the two countries in the field of security, the statement said.
“We place high value on the support of Israel for the development of our potential to combat terrorism. We have no choice but to co-operate for the sake of the security of the citizens of both countries,” Vigenin said, and confirmed Bulgaria’s position in regard to the results of the investigation into the bombing attack at Sarafovo, adding that Bulgaria is relying on its foreign partners to provide the requested legal assistance in the case.
This follows Vigenin having been quoted on June 5 2013 as saying that Bulgaria only had an “indication” that the Lebanese-based organisation was involved in the terrorist attack, in which five Israelis, a Bulgarian and the carrier of the bomb died – a statement that immediately was interpreted as a backdown by Bulgaria on its February 5 statement linking Hezbollah to the terrorist attack.
International media widely reported Vigenin’s interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, which came as high-level discussions were taking place within the European Union on whether to declare Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organisation, with the UK in the lead in pushing for such a declaration.
Vigenin was quoted as saying that it was important that the EU decision should not be based only on the bombing at Bourgas Airport “because I think the evidence we have is not explicit”.
“There is an indication that it is possible (that Hezbollah was responsible for the terrorist attack) but we cannot take decisions with important consequences for the EU based on indirect data,” said Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, who came into office along with the new of the country’s new Bulgarian Socialist Party government on May 29.
Vigenin said that if there was “enough serious proof from other cases” then Bulgaria would not waver from supporting such a decision.
However, on June 6, following widespread reaction to the reported statements by Vigenin, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the matter had been discussed between him and John Rowan, the ambassador of Ireland – current holder of the rotating presidency of the EU – and that Vigenin had said that Bulgaria had not revised its position on the terrorist act at Bourgas Airport.
“Bulgaria is ready to join the consensus decision of the EU and it is our responsibility to present an even more solid foundation for it,” the statement quoted Vigenin as saying, adding that he had requested an acceleration of the process of gathering additional evidence from the foreign partners from whom assistance had been requested.
In an interview with Bulgaria’s Standart, underlining that Sofia had not changed its position, Vigenin said: “Regarding the ongoing consultations whether the armed wing of Hezbollah should be put on the list of terrorist organisations, Bulgaria will share the stand reached by all EU members. So, I asked our foreign partners to speed up the process of evidence collection.
“So, regardless of some speculations of the media, Bulgaria has not reconsidered its stand on Hezbollah.”
“My opinion is that Bulgaria should present the whole information it has to give the opportunity to our EU partners to make their judgments,” Vigenin was quoted as saying.
“But I would not like that the whole case be based only and solely on the bomb attack against Bourgas airport, there are other cases which lead to Hezbollah. If this is so, Bulgaria should support the joint position of the EU for blacklisting the military wing of Hezbollah in the list of terrorist organisations,” he said.
(Photo of Vigenin and Kamisa-Raz: Foreign Ministry)