Bulgaria and Israel will strengthen strategic cooperation in tourism and security. This was agreed between the Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.

Minister Misezhnikov: "Terrorism is an international phenomenon that knows no borders and that we must fight against. Bulgaria is a strategic anchor in terms of tourism and we will work to increase mutual cooperation in this area."

(Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism)

Bulgaria and Israel will strengthen strategic cooperation in the areas of tourism and security. This was announced by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at a joint press conference held earlier today in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Tourism Minister Misezhnikov, who arrived in Bulgaria today (23 July) at the head of a delegation of senior representatives of the Israeli tourism industry, thanked the Bulgarian Prime Minister on behalf of the Israeli Government for the effective and dedicated handling by the Bulgarian Government in caring for the terror victims and the investigation of the attack. During the press conference, the minister stated that the terrorists, who tried to damage the relations between the two countries, must not be allowed to succeed in their malicious intent and that the answer to terror is to strengthen the ties in all areas.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev stated that, in his talks with US President Barack Obama and the British Prime Minister David Cameron, it was stressed that those responsible for these terror attacks will be punished and brought to justice. According to the President, the Bulgarian authorities are fully cooperating with the United States National Security as regards the investigation and with European security forces that are investigating the attack and following intelligence warnings related to the Olympic Games in London.

Tourism Minister Misezhnikov added that, apart from those who are directly responsible for the attack, Hizbullah, justice must also be carried out with reference to their superiors – Iran – a terror state that tries to reach out throughout the world via its operational arms.

Within the framework of strengthening political and tourist ties between the two countries, the governments of Israel and Bulgaria will meet in Jerusalem in September 2012 to discuss bilateral cooperation. In October, Bulgarian President Plevneliev will arrive in Israel for a state visit.

Bulgaria holds a soft spot for Israeli vacationers. During the first half of 2012, there was an 11% increase in tourists from Bulgaria to Israel as compared to the same time last year. According to data from the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism, nearly 139,000 Israelis visited Bulgaria in 2011. In 2011, over 8,000 Bulgarian tourists visited Israel.

On Tuesday morning (24 July) Tourism Minister Misezhnikov will hold an official memorial ceremony at the site of the terror attack and lay a wreath on behalf of the Government of Israel. The minister will meet with the governors and mayors of Burgas and Varna, the two main tourism destinations for Israeli vacationers in Bulgaria. In addition, the minister will tour the hotels and entertainment areas in the region frequented by Israelis and meet with the heads of the Jewish community in Bulgaria.