Bulgaria is making progress in hunting down the terrorists responsible for a July 2012 bombing in the resort city of Burgas that killed five Israelis, the country’s leader said Tuesday in Jerusalem.
“We’re thankful to the Israeli side for their support and help to the police during the investigation on this terrorist act,” Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said, speaking through an interpreter. “I perceive that soon we will be able to bring to justice those who are to be blamed for this terrorist act.”
At an event organized by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, Oresharski said he hoped to broaden security cooperation with Israel and that he fully supports Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s initiative to create “a regional group” to respond to terror attacks and other such crises in the future.
Bulgaria supported the decision to add the military wing of Hezbollah — the Lebanese group it blames for the Burgas attack — to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, he said. But, responding to a question by The Times of Israel, he noted that his government does not plan to promote blacklisting all elements of Hezbollah, because it “doesn’t want to disturb the process that is going on in the region.”
On Monday, Oresharski visited relatives of the Israeli victims of the July 18, 2012, bus bombing in the Eastern Bulgarian resort town of Burgas, which killed six people, including five Israeli tourists. During the meeting, he said there was “progress” in the investigation into the attack, but did not elaborate.
According to Bulgarian media reports, the alleged perpetrator was a native Algerian, who had lived for some time in Morocco and was trained in South Lebanon.
Last week, Europol director Rob Wainwright said he was “highly impressed by the way the Bulgarian authorities conduct the investigation” into the Burgas bombing, adding that he is “convinced that there will be a successful ending to this important case.”
Hezbollah denies any involvement in the attack, but Israeli and Bulgarian authorities say they have clear evidence linking the Shiite organization to the case. “All traces lead there,” Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said last month. “What we can prove in court is another matter. If you’re asking me if I am certain of this — yes, I am.”
Oresharski and several top ministers in the Bulgarian cabinet are in Israel for a three-day visit mostly focused on strengthening business ties. They were scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Liberman, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. The delegation will also travel to Ramallah for meetings with senior Palestinian officials.