The friendship between Israel and Bulgaria will not suffer in the wake of the terror attack in Burgas, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said Monday in a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
“Bulgaria and Israel are friendly nations and we will not allow the terrorist attack in Burgas to overshadow our traditionally good ties,” the Sofia News Agency quoted Misezhnikov as saying. “Any negative change in our relations would be a reward for terrorism.”
The minister’s visit to Bulgaria is intended to bolster tourism ties following the deadly terror attack that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian in the resort city of Burgas last week. Misezhnikov was later scheduled to meet with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and to hold a memorial ceremony at the site of the attack.
According to a Tourism Ministry statement, a delegation of prominent members of Israel’s tourism sector joined Misezhnikov in visiting Bulgaria.
Misezhnikov praised and thanked “all Bulgarian services, medics, and citizens who came to the aid of the Israeli tourists hurt in this incident,” He also extended condolences to family of the Bulgarian bus driver who was killed in the attack.
“Even after such an incident, life and business must continue,” said Misezhnikov as he urged Israelis to continue visiting Bulgaria.
Prime Minister Borisov reiterated that the Bulgarian government iwa continuing its full investigation into the bombing. “We are working actively with representatives of the best services in the world in order to uncover the identity of the perpetrator,” Borisov was quoted by Sofia News Agency as saying.
“Terrorism will not disrupt our lives and stop our aspirations,” Misezhnikov said in the ministry statement. He encouraged the public to keep traveling, since meeting people from other countries and visiting different cultures was important, and said that “tourism is a bridge to peace.” He thanked the Bulgarian government for its cooperation and its “dedicated treatment following the tragic terror attack.”
Misezhnikov’s first meeting on Monday was at the synagogue in the capital city of Sofia with members of the Bulgarian Jewish community. “This attack was organized by Hezbollah and financed by Iran,” he said at that meeting. “We have a common enemy — international terrorism — and we must strengthen our bilateral ties in the field of security.”
In 2011 almost 140,000 Israelis visited the Black Sea country, while roughly 8,000 Bulgarians visited Israel. According to ministry figures, during the first half of 2012, the number of Bulgarian tourists in Israel increased by 11 percent.
Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.