Bulgaria underlines new Israel FM’s Bulgarian roots in messages of congratulations

Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva has congratulated Gabi Ashkenazi on becoming Israel’s Foreign Minister, with Ashkenazi reciprocating with a message stating pride in his Bulgarian roots.

“As a descendant of the Bulgarian Jews, saved during the Holocaust, you represent the deep historical connection between Israel and Bulgaria as friends and allies. Looking forward to working with you!” Zaharieva said in a message on Twitter.

Replying, Ashkenazi, whose father was a Bulgarian Jew, thanked Zaharieva, adding: “I am very proud of my Bulgarian roots and look forward to working with you to strengthen the relations between our countries as we mark 30 years since we re-established diplomatic relations”.

The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, in a message on Facebook, wished success to Ashkenazi, noting that he was a prominent military and political leader and of Bulgarian descent via his father.

Earlier, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov tweeted warm congratulations to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the formation of the new unity government, which took office on May 17.

“We will continue to work closely with Israel to strengthen our strategic cooperation bilaterally and to promote peace and security on the international scene,” Borissov said.

In a statement, Israel’s ambassador to Bulgaria, Yoram Elron, said that 2020 is a special year in the bilateral relation between Israel and Bulgaria, “since we are marking 30 years of restoration of our diplomatic relations”.

“But the ties between our two people go beyond dates in a very unique way. These relations are founded on a special long lasting historic friendship for which the saviour of Bulgarian Jews during World War II is a predominant factor.”

Elron said up until joining politics just less than two years ago, Ashkenazi had spent most of his years in the army, rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff.

“He has dedicated his life to the defence of Israel.”

None of this would have been possible had his father’s life not been saved by the Bulgarian people during history’s worst chapter – the Second World War, Elron said.

“Indeed, Gabi Ashkenazi’s father, a Bulgarian national, was a Holocaust survivor who had immigrated to Israel after its inception together with nearly fifty thousand Bulgarian Jews that all survived the Holocaust. This thanks to the courage of various leaders but most of all thanks to the unique Bulgarian spirit which stood up against putting its Jews in harm’s way,” he said.

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292