President Rivlin: "We must all stand strong together and say in a loud and clear voice that above all else, we will fight terrorism and its supporters in any place they may try and reach and in every place they will attempt to hide."
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin began this morning, (Thursday, 7 July 2016) a state visit to the Republic of Bulgaria. The visit began with an official welcome ceremony by the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, at the Plaza in St. Alexander Nevsky Square. During the ceremony, the national anthems were played and the Presidents together reviewed a guard of honor and watched a military parade. At the end of the ceremony, President Rivlin laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Following the ceremony, the Presidents continued onto a lengthy work meeting at the President’s Residence, during which the Presidents discussed the strong relations between the two countries, and expanding their cooperation. Among other issues discussed, the Bulgarian President updated President Rivlin on the developments of the investigation into the terror attack in Burgas which took place in 2012. As the meeting concluded the two Presidents gave statements to the press.
In his opening remarks President Rivlin thanked the President of Bulgaria for his warm welcome and noted the strength of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Bulgarian people over the years.
The President noted Bulgaria’s support of Israel upon its establishment and the support of the Bulgarian people to the Jewish community during the Nazi occupation. The President said, "We will not forget the asylum you gave our people during the terrible Holocaust that killed six million of our brothers and sisters, in the darkest period known in Europe. Forty eight thousand Jews survived the Holocaust thanks to the heroism of the Bulgarians, and their stance against the Nazis."
He continued, "And even more recently, we have been witness to how you stood in front of the flames of hatred and terror which have also hit Bulgaria," and continued, "The flames that have left no nation immune in recent years. We must all stand strong together and say in a loud and clear voice that above all else, we will fight terrorism and its supporters in any place they may try and reach and in every place they will attempt to hide.
"Mr. President, Israel is proud of our steadfast friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two countries," the President concluded, "The results of years of diplomatic relations are apparent for all to see in many areas. Much more potential for future cooperation awaits us, and I hope that my visit today will help to promote them, and will strengthen our friendship. I wish to thank you for the wonderful hospitality – I am honored to be here today. "
President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev said, "This visit is a testimony to the special relationship and strong friendship between the two peoples and will help to further deepen ties and cooperation. The relationship between the two countries has only continued and strengthened in recent years, but the friendship and mutual respect between our peoples is rooted deep in history.
"During this visit we will inaugurate the monument commemorating the rescue of Bulgarian Jews, in the hope of preserving the memory of the heroic deeds of the Bulgarian people for future generations. Unfortunately, our country could not save the Jews who were not citizens of Bulgaria during the Holocaust and lived in areas adjacent to us."
He added, "In our hearts we will always remember the tragedy of the 2012 attack in Burgas. The two countries are doing their best since then so this tragedy may never to repeat itself. Bulgaria will do its utmost to bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.
"Israel is a strategic partner and there is huge potential for bilateral cooperation in various fields including high-tech, electronics, energy, agriculture and more. We will continue and develop businesses between the countries and we will establish new projects that will provide many opportunities for Bulgaria and Israel. We welcome the Israeli tourists who come to the country every year. Thousands of Israelis visited Bulgaria last year, and we will be happy to see more and more Bulgarians visiting Israel. We also see Israel as a potential supplier of gas to our region. In view of our strategic location we can deliver gas to Europe from Israel."
President Plevneliev stressed the defense cooperation between the two countries and noted that cooperation in this field has never been more successful, and said: "We want to be of help to Israel in Europe, and hope that Bulgaria will be the platform for the realization of Israeli interests. The friendship between me and the President (Rivlin) is strong and it will benefit the two peoples."
Later, President Rivlin met with Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov. During their meeting, the two leaders discussed the political situation in the Middle East and specifically the growing phenomenon of ISIS. The two discussed the absorption of Syrian refuges making their way to Europe and the support of terrorism by states such as Iran.
Later today, the President will inaugurate the monument to commemorate the rescue of Bulgarian Jews by the Bulgarian people during World War II. In the evening, the President will meet with representatives of the Jewish community, and later the President of Bulgaria will hold an official dinner in honor of President and First Lady Rivlin at the President’s Residence.