Israel's Netanyahu Heads on Rare Visit to Romania, Bulgaria

Diplomacy | July 6, 2011, Wednesday // 08:28|  views

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Benjamin Netanyahu is leaving Wednesday on a rare trip to Romania and Bulgaria, the first visit of an Israeli prime minister to these countries for the last two decades.

The Israeli delegation will include ministers of finance, telecommunications, construction and civil defense.

Netanyahu will be meeting Wednesday in Romania with his counterpart Emil Boc, as well as President Traian Basescu.

The next day he will fly to Sofia, where he is scheduled to confer with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President Georgi Parvanov.

In Sofia, the Bulgarian and Israeli cabinets are going to hold a joint sitting. According to Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Vesela Cherneva, the joint sitting will make history as the first such event in the region, as this far Israel has held such a meeting only with the governments of Italy and Germany.

Three intergovernmental agreements are expected to be signed at the meeting: one for cooperation in the military industry sector, one on mutual protection of investments, and one on the stimulation of R&D in the private sector.

The official visit of PM Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers also includes an evening meeting with the Bulgarian Jewish community in the Sofia Synagogue.

Bulgaria and Israel have been holding traditionally vigorous bilateral relations, the last Bulgarian delegation to Israel being just a month ago, when vice-PM and Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov discussed matters related to international crime and the boosting of Israeli tourist inflow in Bulgaria.

A year ago Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikolay Mladenov was to Israel for the ceremony of recognition of Vladimir Kurtev by Yad Vashem, the "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority", as the seventh Bulgarian "Righteous Among the Nations" for his role in the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps in 1943.

In April 2010, Bulgarian Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov was also to Israel, heading a business delegation, while January 2010 Israel was visited by a high Bulgarian delegation headed by PM Boyko Borisov, in which key matters as to the economic and financial development of the two countries were discussed.

The two countries have also been enjoying vigorous economic and cultural ties. In 2009 Jews from around the world gathered to celebrate the centennial of the Sofia Synagogue.

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Tags: Traicho Traikov, Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Boyko Borisov, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Yad Vashem, Holocaust, Nikolay Mladenov, Sofia Synagogue, military industry, investments, R&D


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