World Jewish Congress chief executive Robert Singer holds talks with Bulgarian government

Written by on February 1, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on World Jewish Congress chief executive Robert Singer holds talks with Bulgarian government

The chief executive officer and executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Robert Singer, is holding talks with Bulgarian government officials. On February 2 2018, he will meet Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in Sofia. He already had a 90-minute conversation with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva on February 1.

At a dinner with members of the Organization of the Bulgarian Jews “Shalom”, Singer said that they had spoken about positive and negative aspects. One of the more gratifying points on the agenda was the growing number of Israelis who come to Bulgaria as tourists and expat residents.

Zaharieva and Singer also discussed the so-called Lukov March, planned for February 17.

Lukov was assassinated in 1943 by a communist partisan team. He was one of the founders of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, a pro-Nazi grouping which had considerable influence during the war, in which Bulgaria was allied to Hitler’s Germany. Neo-Nazis from Bulgaria, but also Germany, Sweden and other countries usually celebrate him in Sofia.

Robert Singer, Ekaterina Zaharieva and Alexander Oscar on Thursday. Photo by Moni Frances.

But this time, there is an international coalition which insists on an effective ban. The WCJ recently started an online petition against the Nazi march, which more than 174 000 people had signed by February 1.

Singer intends to voice his concern about that march during his conversation with Borissov. The two will also discuss the Jewish community in Bulgaria. The 75th anniversary of the events of 1943, when a deportation of the Bulgarian Jews was avoided, thanks to courageous non-Jewish Bulgarians, will likely be discussed too. This applies to Bulgaria’s recent voting behaviour at the United Nations as well.

In an interview with The Sofia Globe, which can be found here, Singer said that as Bulgaria was holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, it was “more important than ever that it upholds the critical EU values of tolerance and the rejection of extremism and anti-Semitism.”

But the World Jewish Congress’ fight against hatred is not only about anti-Semitism. Singer said during his dinner with Shalom that the Jewish minority had the responsibility to stand up for other minorities as well, including Roma, gays and lesbians.

Singer praised the leadership of Shalom by saying that its president Alexander Oscar, who was present during the government talks as well, was very active and “one of the best leaders we have”.

The Sofia Globe’s interview with Robert Singer can be read here.

Photo at top of page by Solomon Frances.

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