Bulgaria Welcomes Israel's PM Netanyahu on Rare Visit

Diplomacy | July 7, 2011, Thursday // 07:49|  views

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is pictured here together with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during his two-day official visit to Israel in January 2010. Photo by BGNES

Benjamin Netanyahu arrives on Thursday in Bulgaria, the first visit of an Israeli prime minister to the country for the last two decades.

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

The visit is at the invitation of Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

In Sofia Netanyahu is scheduled to confer with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President Georgi Parvanov.

A highlight on the agenda will the joint sitting to be held by the Bulgarian and Israeli cabinets. 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.

Israeli media cited diplomatic officials as saying that the visit is not just about the Palestinian statehood bid, but rather a chance to promote relations and cultivate friendship.

Bulgaria both recognized a Palestinian state in 1988 when they were under Soviet domination, Israel is trying to get them not to support the Palestinian move in September. Insiders told Israeli media that the signals given by Bulgaria's foreign minister are encouraging.

Bulgaria is considered among the most friendly countries toward Israel in the EU. Bilateral relations were given a boost as Israel's ties with Turkey with Turkey deteriorated and the country tried to improve its ties with Turkey's historic rivals in the region.

Bulgaria and Israel have been holding traditionally vigorous bilateral relations. The last Bulgarian delegation visited Israel 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: investments, military industry, Sofia Synagogue, Nikolay Mladenov, Holocaust, Yad Vashem, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Boyko Borisov, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Traicho Traikov, Bulgaria, Romania, Bulgarian


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