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Kristian Vigenin met with the executive director of the American Jewish Committee David Harris

25 September 2013 News

Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin met with the executive director of the American Jewish Committee David Harris at the organization's headquarters in New York. The topics discussed included the current situation in the country, the relations between Bulgaria and Israel, the crisis in Syria, the Middle East peace process and the results of the investigation ofthe Burgas bombing.

The situation in the country is gradually normalizing as the government is doing everything necessary to meet citizens’ expectations for dialogue and change, Minister Vigenin said. According to him, a proof of this is the creation of Public Councils to all ministries and major institutions. Certain measures have been taken to ease the conditions for business, he added.

According to Kristian Vigenin, in recent years the relations between Bulgaria and Israel have reached a strategic partnership level. He noted the importance of the expert support that our country has received from Israel and the US partner agencies to uncover the perpetrators of the Burgas attack. According to him, the country is now more prepared to respond to such threats. Minister Vigenin said that the case of thesuspected perpetratorsof the terrorist attack is expected to go to trial soon.

David Harris thanked for the assessment that Bulgaria gave for the relations with Israel, stressing that he is a true friend to our country. According to him, there are many opportunities to promote Bulgaria in the US, of which we must take advantage. He gave an example with the development of tourism, pointing out that there is a potential that has not been exploited yet. In his opinion, it is good for Americans to be more informed of our country through the local media so that even the development and promotion of the “brand” Bulgaria can be considered.

In relation to the Syrian crisis, Minister Vigenin said that Bashar Assad has lost his political legitimacy and the country needs a durable political solution to the conflict in the interest of the people and the peace of the region. Currently, the biggest challenge for our country that is related to Syria, is the provision of appropriate conditions for the increasing number of refugees, Vigenin said. For us this is a new phenomenon and we try to respond in the most appropriate way – currently we provide new accommodation buildings because setting tents is not a solution to the problem, the Minister explained. According to him, the situation has now become a humanitarian issue and we expect expert and financial support from the EU and other international organizations to deal with the crisis.

Kristian Vigenin and David Harris expressed support for the commitment of the US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East peace process. They discussed the announced intention of Iran’s new government for openness and dialogue. According to Vigenin, this intention needs to be materialized by taking actual steps, an opinion that was shared by his counterparts at the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, held earlier that day.

Minister Vigenin informed of the meetings, held during his working visit to Washington, which he described as very rewarding. In his words, the question of the visa requirements for Bulgarians traveling to the US is still on the schedule but noted that during his meetings in the US capital he had received positive signs for its solution.

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