At a conference in Bratislava, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Sterk has expressed concern about the rising populism in Europe that is creating a favourable ground for development of phenomena such as antisemitism.
Sterk underlined Bulgaria’s active policy of counteracting all intolerance and racial hatred, according to a Foreign Ministry statement at the close of the two-day conference on February 6.
The conference was organized by the Slovak Presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of the Organization for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Resistance to antisemitism is part of the OSCE’s work on the human dimension of security, the statement said.
Leading aspects of the discussions were to strengthen the security of Jewish communities, invest in educational initiatives to help prevent antisemitism and keep alive the memory of the Holocaust, and the role of the media in these processes. New approaches to resolving the old and non-existent phenomenon of racial hatred were sought.
Sterk outlined the initiatives taken by Bulgaria during its Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2018 to combat antisemitism, as well as the country’s future engagement on the subject.
He saw recognition of this in Bulgaria’s admission as a full member of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA).
In the course of the conference, participating countries agreed that the manifestations of discrimination and intolerance that provoke hate crimes endanger not only individuals but also bear the potential for widespread violence which can become a threat to international security.
Sterk held a separate meeting with the CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer.
He personally thanked Singer and the WJC for supporting Bulgaria’s accession to the IHRA in November 2018.
The meeting confirmed the readiness to work together against antisemitism and intolerance, and to disseminate the lessons of the past among the growing generation, to overcome the possibility of repeating the Holocaust tragedy, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement said.
In this, the example of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the death camps of the Holocaust had a special place, as clear proof that valour is possible even in the darkest days of history, Sterk said.
The meeting also confirmed Bulgaria’s readiness to set up a national action plan on the basis of the memorandum of co-operation signed in 2018 between the government, the Organization of the Bulgarian Jews “Shalom” and the WJC, the Foreign Ministry statement said.