The Bulgarian authorities are doing everything essential to prevent all forms of intolerance, xenophobia and discrimination, “and you can rely on us,” Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told a delegation from Israel on March 8, in Bulgaria for commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust.
Zaharieva said that Bulgaria is working actively in the fight against hate speech, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
She said that Bulgaria had been the fifth country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism and had appointed a national co-ordinator for combating anti-Semitism, Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev.
Georgiev was working very actively, Zaharieva said, while expressing regret that, as in other countries, there were isolated manifestations in Bulgaria of anti-Semitism. She said that these were carried out by isolated and marginal elements of Bulgarian society.
Zaharieva noted the close historical links between Bulgaria and the State of Israel, such as that, in 2018, there were two important anniversaries, the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews and the 70th year since the creation of the State of Israel.
She expressed pride in the fact that during the Second World War, Bulgaria had rescued Bulgarian Jews from deportation, while she expressed regret that more than 11 000 Jews from territories under Bulgarian administration at the time had been murdered in Nazi death camps.
Addressing the delegation, which included members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Zaharieva said that apart from the official political relations between the two countries, the direct contacts between the two peoples of the countries had developed.
“Today Bulgaria and Israel maintain close ties of friendship but I really want to see more active economic relations between the two countries. The potential is very big and we have to work even harder in this direction,” Zaharieva said.
The 75th anniversary commemorations in Bulgaria include, on March 9, a wreath-laying ceremony in Sofia at the monument of gratitude and a solemn ceremony Parliament, with the launch of a book in Bulgarian entitled “75 Years. Unforgotten Faces of the Rescue”, dedicated to ordinary Bulgarians who played a courageous role in the prevention of the deportations. On March 10, there will be the launch of the English-language edition of a book commissioned by the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, entitled Bulgarian Jews: Living History, which relates the story over the millennia of the community in Bulgaria.
(Photo: Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)