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Ekaterina Zaharieva: Bulgaria Pursues a Consistent Policy against Antisemitism and Xenophobia

24 June 2020 News

“The Bulgarian government pursues a consistent policy against all displays of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hate speech,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva said at a video conference with the Board of Directors of the National Coalition in Support of the Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ).

The discussion focused on actions against displays of antisemitism, hate speech and xenophobia and on the global fight against the coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in an increase in antisemitism, xenophobia and hate speech around the world, particularly on social media,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister said. She pointed out the conspiracy theories and fake news being spread and quoted UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s observation that the pandemic has unleashed a “tsunami of hatred”.

“I would like to assure you that Bulgaria shares the concern of the international community about attempts by extremists to capitalize on people’s fears and insecurity by blaming Jews for the spread of the coronavirus,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said.

“Antisemitic rhetoric continues to appear in Bulgaria on social media, but our country is a safe home for Bulgarian Jews. The Bulgarian Jewish community is active and well integrated in Bulgarian society,” the Foreign Minister observed.

“I am proud to point out that the Bulgarian authorities successfully prevented a torchlight parade by ultranationalists and neo-Nazis, known as the Lukov March rally, in February.  This happened for the first time in 17 years. I am grateful for the support by all international Jewish organizations, including Shalom,” the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

Ekaterina Zaharieva announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was working on the first Bulgarian National Action Plan against Antisemitism that would be developed thanks to the Norway Grants. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the process, Bulgaria continues to be committed to the successful completion of the document by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

The topics of the video conference included the situation and the measures countries are adopting against the Coronavirus as well as Bulgaria’s relations with the United States and Israel. Minister Zaharieva highlighted Bulgaria’s excellent relations with the two countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked Daniel Rubin, the outgoing Chair of the NCSEJ, and his future successor James Schiller for the invitation to take part in the meeting and wished Schiller success in his mission. Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, took part in the video conference.

The National Coalition in Support of the Eurasian Jewry is an American non-governmental organization whose main function is to help Jews and Jewish communities in East Europe and Eurasia. The NCSEJ and its partner organizations have maintained in close contact with key government leaders throughout the East Europe region, Israel and the United States. The NCSEJ is among Bulgaria’s best partners in the United States, together with the American Jewish Committee.

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