President Shimon Peres conducted a work meeting this morning with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. President Peres welcomes his guest in an official state welcome ceremony at the start of his visit to Israel.
President Peres stated “Welcome to Israel and to its ancient capital, Jerusalem. Bulgaria is a true friend of Israel, which worked to save the Jewish people 70 years ago in Europe and stood by Israel following the terror attack in Burgas last July. I wish to thank you, your people and the government of Bulgaria for the support and aid that you gave to the injured.”
Mr. Peres stressed that the visit of the Bulgarian president to Jerusalem, the meetings between ministers and the increased strategic cooperation in foreign policy and security are the best answer to terrorism and to extremism in the Middle East. President Peres added that much could be learnt from the Balkans, where states who knew hatred and war became friends and transformed the region into one of peace and stability. In light of events in Syria where the leader continues to massacre his own people and what is happening in Iran President Peres added that, “I see the Balkan case and am encouraged – just as the Balkans underwent positive change, so we all can act for a better future for the Middle East.”
President Plevneliev thanked President Peres and said that it was an honor to be in Israel both for him and for his delegation. He added that he was recently elected president and that he considers himself fortune that at the first opportunity he was able to visit Israel, which he described as a wonderful country, and to shake hands with a great leader and discuss with him the past and the future. The Bulgarian President added that politicians are paving the way for change and that he believes that by learning from the past it is possible to march to a better future. Plevneliev went on and said that Bulgaria had undergone changes in the past decades and that he is focused on taking Bulgaria into a future of progress, a future without aggression and wars.
Mr. Plevneliev stressed that the relations between Bulgaria and Israel are positive and deep saying that Bulgaria and Israel have been close for thousands of years describing the two countries as consistently reaching out to one another and supporting one another based on real cooperation and mutual values. He expressed his hope that this visit would serve to further strengthen the relations between the countries in the fields of economics, culture, tourism and technology saying that Israel was amongst the most innovative and technological countries and that Bulgaria sought to be Israel’s partner. The Bulgarian President added that a decade ago that bilateral trade stood at $50 million and today is already $360 million but that he views that figure as the start of the process due to the enormous potential for growth.
President Peres responded to President Plevneliev and said, “Israel’s doors are open to cooperation with Bulgaria. We would be glad to deepen and expand cooperation in a range of fields including hi-tech, tourism, economics and technology.
President Peres will host a state dinner in honor of the Bulgarian President at his residence in Jerusalem on Monday night the eve of 7 Cheshvan 5773 at 19:00. During the meal the two presidents will deliver speeches to the assembled guests including senior political figures, diplomats and individuals from the economic, academic and cultural spheres.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)