Addressing the second consecutive Passover Seder dinner that she has hosted, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva sent a strong message that Bulgaria’s government and society had chosen to be among those countries that are opposed to hatred, racism and xenophobia.
“In these years when – unfortunately – we see increasing nationalism, manifestations of xenophobia and hate speech, we need more such initiatives,” said Zaharieva, who in 2018 became the first Bulgarian Foreign Minister to host a traditional celebration of Pesach, inviting foreign diplomats and dozens of representatives of Bulgarian society to join in the dinner.
Those in attendance included representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, the office of the Chief Mufti – spiritual leader of the Muslim community, representatives of the Roman Catholic church, ambassadors of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance member countries, Bulgarian diplomats, and representatives of Jewish communities in the countries of the Western Balkans.
Noting that in the time since the first such Seder that she had hosted, Bulgaria had become a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Zaharieva said: “We are determined to teach our children history so that its darkest pages can never be repeated”.
“Let us remember, not forget and be tolerant,” she said.
Associate Professor Alexander Oscar, president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” expressed thanks to Zaharieva and to Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev, Bulgaria’s National Co-ordinator of the Fight against Antisemitism.
“If until now the fight against hate speech was conducted only by the Jewish community, today the Foreign Ministry, Minister Zaharieva, Georg Georgiev, Bulgarian diplomacy and the state have joined forces,” he said.
Dr Oscar said that the members of the Jewish community were deeply concerned about the increased level of antisemitic incidents in Bulgaria. He emphasised that the fight against antisemitism and hate speech “is the fight for our future”.
“We should never take the liberty of democracy for granted; we should protect it in the same way that the flame of the candle must be protected, so that it is not extinguished,” he said.