Bulgarian President Plevneliev, Oresharski in joint statement calling for tolerance towards Syrian refugees

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev and Plamen Oresharski, appointed in May to sit in the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, issued a joint statement on November 12 calling for tolerance towards Syrian refugees and speaking out against xenophobia and pseudo-nationalism.

The statement came against a background of anti-refugee and anti-migrant messages from nationalist and ultra-nationalist political forces and some sections of the Bulgarian media, which have been followed by racist attacks on refugees or, in one case, a Bulgarian mistaken for a migrant.

The joint statement by Plevneliev and Oresharski called on all politicians and institutions to defuse tensions and prevent such incidents in the future and stop inciting hatred and division in society.

The civil war in Syria had continued for a third year, with more than 100 000 people dead and millions fleeing from their homes, the statement said.

Waves of refugees from Syria had been caused by a conflict which had destroyed millions of lives and people were coming to Bulgaria to flee from the evil of war.

Bulgaria was required to respond to the problem in the name of universal values that put life and human rights as the highest good, the statement said.

Over the years, the people of Bulgaria had proven their tolerance and solidarity to people in distress. “This is part of our national culture and a cause for pride,” Plevneliev and Oresharski said.

The issue of refugees and people seeking asylum should not be politicised, the statement said.

Each country has its own mechanisms to deal with illegal immigration, refugees need a special approach and it is no coincidence that they are also subject to international legal protection.

Instilling fear and hatred and confrontation among the many groups in society was dangerous and in no way could be tolerated, the statement said.

The statement spoke out against speculation about the material and financial support given to refugees.

“It will not affect the social payments to Bulgarian citizens, nor will it affect the jobs and pensions of our parents.

“Syrians fleeing the war did not come to our country for good . They do not want our money. They ask just for help and protection.”

This meant that it was important for all citizens to approach the matter with reason and responsibility, Plevneliev and Oresharski said.

Xenophobia and pseudo-nationalism could inflict a serious blow to the long-term effects on the European image and reputation of Bulgaria. “They destroy society from within”.

“In recent days we have witnessed alarming incidents, criminal acts of assault , coupled with attempts to sow hatred and calls for expulsion of refugees.

“Imposition of hatred and intolerance of difference and setting people against each other, as well as meddling with ethnic peace, are extremely dangerous and unacceptable actions that must be absolutely condemned,” Plevneliev and Oresharski said.

The efforts of all citizens, politicians and institutions should focus on the prevention of such cases in the future, the defusing of tension and a stop to inciting hatred and division in society. Also important was an appropriate response from law enforcement.

“We appeal to all for solidarity and sympathy for the suffering of refugees seeking asylum in our country. Let us all prove our humanity and civilised choice,” the statement said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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