The fight against terrorism and hate speech, the promotion of inter-faith tolerance and the search for a solution to the migrant crisis figured on the agenda of a meeting that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva held in Sofia today with MPs of the Iran-Bulgaria Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Islamic Parliament of Iran. The delegation is led by the Head of the Group, Ahmad Alireza Beygi.
“Counter-terrorism is our common cause,” Zaharieva said, stressing that Muslims outnumber Christians among the victims of terrorist attacks. The Deputy Prime Minister added that everybody should learn from their mistakes, paying special attention to combating radicalisation among young people and countering hate speech.
Ahmad Alireza Beygi agreed and added that his Government is determined to tackle the root causes of terrorism, with a special focus on migration processes. He emphasised that, as a result of various conflicts, citizens of certain countries are forced to leave them in order to seek peace and prosperity for themselves and for their families. As an example, he pointed to several million Afghan refugees in Iran, for whom the State has established an integration programme. Minister Zaharieva also stressed that foreign nationals’ integration is a key stability factor on the Old Continent, too. She said that all States are duty-bound to work for the promotion of inter-faith tolerance.
Both sides found that economic contacts have yet to catch up adequately with the 120-years-old excellent political relations between Bulgaria and Iran. The delegations concurred about the existence of worthwhile opportunities for the development of tourism and an increase of two-way trade, which has the potential to recover to its levels of the 1980s.
Zaharieva described Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2016 as a sign of friendship between the two peoples. She took advantage of the meeting to invite her Iranian counterpart to visit Bulgaria.
“I would like to ask you to convey to the Bulgarian people New Year greetings and congratulations on the forthcoming Presidency of the EU Council,” Ahmad Alireza Beygi said. “The Presidency will be our success as well because our friends will occupy a position that we, too, consider important.”
The development of the situation in the Middle East, the European position on the nuclear deal with Iran, as well as a broad range of other topics on the international agenda were discussed at the meeting.