Robert Singer holds talks with Bulgarian government

Written by on February 1, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on 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 Friday morning, he will meet Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in Sofia. He already had a 90-minute conversation with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva on Thursday.

At a dinner with members of the Organization of the Bulgarian Jews, Shalom, Singer said 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.

Minister Zaharieva, who is also Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, and Singer also discussed a banned Nazi event scheduled for February 17. The so-called Lukov March, during which right wing extremists honour Hristo Lukov on an annual basis, was already banned last year, but went ahead anyway.

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 Solomon 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 Thursday night.

On Friday morning, Robert Singer intends to voice his concern about that march during his conversation with Prime Minister Borissov. The two will also talk about the Jewish community in Bulgaria in general. 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, 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. Robert Singer said during his dinner with Shalom, the Jewish minority had the responsibility to stand up for other minorities as well, including Roma, gays and lesbians.

Singer also praised the leadership of Shalom by saying, 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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