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Denying #Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism at its worst

20/03/2018 2 comments

img_1382Yesterday, I addressed the opening of the Sixth Global Forum on Combatting Anti-Semitism. I started by extending greetings from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who was unable to attend this conference and asked me to represent him. Before I began, I expressed my condolences to the families of Adiel Kolman, Ziv Daos and Netanel Kahalani, who were killed by Palestinian perpetrators in the past few days.

There is nothing heroic in killing. Has violence and terror helped any cause, any nation, any country in the region? Those who inspire and praise such attacks do not serve the cause of peace.

The fact we were gathered together yesterday, for the sixth time, in Jerusalem, at the Global Forum for Combatting Antisemitism is a testament. It is a testament to the commitment of nations and peoples around the world to never forget the crimes of the Shoah. It is a testament to never allow hatred, racisms and discrimination and xenophobia to rule the world. But most of all, it is a testament to the resilience of the Jewish people and to their long and painful journey home.

So it is was most appropriate to open this forum with three very clear and simple messages and address them to all who seek to fan the flames of hatred, terror and war:

The State of Israel is here to stay.

It is the home of the Jewish people.

In the modern context,

denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism at its worst.

The modern state of Israel was born out of the ashes of the Second World War. It was built and defended by Jews who came home from across the world, it was established to be a democracy that respects human rights, protects minorities and extends support to immigrants. It is not a colonial project, but a project of hope.

The Shoah did not occur in a vacuum. It was a culmination of thousands of years of persecution from the exile of ancient Babylon, through the pogroms in Tsarist Russia, to the systematic extermination in the Nazi death camps.

The United Nations believes that we have an obligation not only to remember the boundless evil that led to the attempt to systematically eliminate the Jewish people, but to stand up and confront hatred and xenophobia where we see it.

Today we see incidents of

anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance increasing globally,

triggered by populism and by divisive politics. In Europe, we are seeing the re-emergence of neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist groups. In America we hear ominous chants of “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”. Online there is a surge in support for racist or supremacist causes. And there are those who continue to call for the destruction of Israel. They sharpen their weapons as we speak.

Looking closer to home, we must recognize and denounce anti-Semitism here in the region. In too many societies across the Middle East, the demonization of Jews continues unabated. Many have often spoken of how a peaceful two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will pave the way towards resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They are right. Yet at the same time, an enduring peace must be based on the acceptance that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have a historic and religious connection to this land, to this city.

While history has taught us that blind hatred and propaganda need little to turn into violence, it also teaches us that we have a choice. It teaches us that no one is born hating other people. It teaches us that we have a choice whether we give in to xenophobia and hatred or to respect different peoples, faiths and cultures. The Shoah was the result of turning hatred into policy. It became possible because too many people chose to collaborate or looked the other way. This is why

attempts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust and downplay the complicity of those who participated in or enabled genocide are so concerning.

Renowned Israeli writer and Holocaust survivor Aharon Applefeld, who recently passed away, described his memory of confronting indifference: “I noticed that all the doors and windows of our non-Jewish neighbors were suddenly shut, and we walked alone in empty streets. None of our many neighbors, […] was at the window when we dragged along our suitcases.” A sad and tragic picture imprinted in the family history of so many Jews who were lucky to survive the killing grounds of Europe.

Some people however did not look away. They did not keep their doors and windows shut.

In my country, Bulgaria, people came out.

To stand on the train tracks and to not allow the deportations. In a country that was allied to Nazi Germany. While sadly 11,300 Jews living in Bulgarian-administered territories in northern Greece, Eastern Serbia, and Macedonia were deported by the Nazis and their collaborators to be murdered in Treblinka, Bulgaria’s Jewish community of 50,000 people survived the war and has been instrumental in building the modern State of Israel.

We all have a choice to look away from the problems of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance, or to confront them. We all have a responsibility to educate our children long before their young hearts and minds are poisoned by propaganda. To this end, the United Nations and the Secretary-General are committed to continue working to educate people around the world about the horrors of the past and how we can all contribute to ensuring they are never forgotten and never repeated.

I these words I wished the conference every success.

Патриарх на мира и прогреса

28/09/2016 Leave a comment

Днес на 93 годишна възраст ни напусна патриархът на мира и прогреса Шимон Перес. За нас българите, президентът Перес ще остане сред най-големите приятели на България. Той винаги е вярвал, че един народ не е велик, защото е многоброен или контролира голяма територия, а защото е способен на големи дела, на голрми открития и на прогрес. Той виждаше в България вдъхновяващ пример за толерантност и морална сила и винаги я даваше за пример. Баща на съвременен Израел, Перес отдаде живота си, за да изгради модерна държава за своя народ. Бори се за мир до последния си дъх.

За първи път се запознахме през 1996 малко след трагичното убийството на премиера Рабин. Посрещал съм го в София, в Брюксел, множество пъти сме били заедно в Израел. Последната ни среща беше през ноември 2015 в Тел Авив.

Почивай в мир, Шимон!

Тук няма новина!

05/07/2016 1 comment

 

В публичното пространство се появиха спекулации относно това как е комуникирана информацията, че българският парламент и правителство прекратяват проекта за АЕЦ Белене през 2012 с решение на Народното събрание от 28 март 2012, на основание на решение № 250  на Министерски съвет, с което се отменят решения 259 от 2005, 260 от 2005 и
изменя протокол 17.57 от 2004.

Спекулациите са предизвикани от публикуването на множество имейли на г-жа Хилари Клинтън от времето, когато е била американски държавен секретар. В един от тези имейли на 28 март 2012 посланик Морнингстар пише на зам. началника на кабинета на г-жа Клинтън за наш разговор, в който го информирам, че България прекратява проекта. Същата информация предоставих и на посланиците на страните-членки на ЕС в София още на същия ден на среща в МВнР. Руската страна беше информирана за намерението на България още на 26 март от премиера Борисов в телефонен разговор с президента Путин, информация за който има в стенограмата на Министерски съвет.

Да информираш своите американски и европейски съюзници, както и своите руски партньори, за решения от стратегическо значение е нормална практика.

Пиянството на един народ

24/06/2016 Leave a comment


Резултатът от британския референдум е факт и ще има последици за цяла Европа и света. Финансовата криза, която започна през последните часове е само началото. Днес не е достатъчно обаче Европа да повтаря само как ще бъдем силни като сме заедно. Това са излишни заклинания. Британците трябва са започнат процедурата по напускане на ЕС, но всички останали трябва много ясно да си дадем сметка какво става с нас и около нас. През последните години либералната демокрация и свободния пазар бяха поставени под атака от диктатори, националисти и популсти. Тяхната алтернатива е цинична, тя не решава нито един проблем. Много се поддадоха на изкушението да търсят лесен изход, да обявяват либерализма за мъртъв, да хвърлят вината на ЕС, а де не я виждат в себе си. Включително и у нас. Крайно време е да се изправим и да защититим либерланите ценности на личната и икономическа свобода, от нашествието на популизъм и цинизъм. Това означава реформа и на собствените ни институции, включително и на европейските. А не само приказки как сме по силни като сме заедно… Англия, не Велкобритания, избра да живее с миналото. Тъжно, но това е тяхно право. Нямаме право да повтаряме тази грешка нито в България, нито в Европа.

Български икони в Багдад

05/03/2015 Leave a comment
Orthodox Cathedral Church of St George, Baghdad

Orthodox Cathedral Church of St George, Baghdad

В последния си ден в Ирак, посетих Православната катедрала Св Георги. Отдавна бях решил да подаря на отеца двете български икони от Клисурския манастир Св. Петка, които бяха с мен повече от година и половина през всички препятствия, които преживяхме. А и да остане все пак един спомен за България тук, в тези размирни времена…

Цървката е много красива и добре поддържана. За съжаление православните християни в Ирак споделят съдбата на останалите малцинства и в момента са прогонени от домовете си в Мосул от терористичната организация ИДИЛ. Много от тях са потърсили убежище или тук в Багдад или в Ербил. Това е съдбата на всички малцинства в момента… Бежанци в собствената си родина.

По-тъжно ми стана обаче като разбрах, че православният храм Св Георги не е получавал помощ от никоя православна общност вече повече от 10 години. Тъжно е, особено когато знам колко много правят другите църкви за своите братя и сестри в Ирак. Храмът се поддържа от общността, която също издържа и училище. Всички проекти, включително и за начално училище и дом за възрастни хора са замразени.

Дали няма да сгрешим ако, макар и за момент, не се огледаме и не помислим как можем да помогнем на хора, чиито живот е изключително тежък, в момент в който те най-много имат нужда от помощ? Сърцето ми се сви като видях колко скромно ни посрещнаха.

Дано да успея да намеря хора в България, които са готови да помогнат. Без да търсят облага и слава.

Youth is the Hidden Treasure of Iraq

30/11/2013 Leave a comment

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It is often said that Iraq is a rich country, that it is a country that is rich in oil and gas.

But I think Iraq has hidden riches. One that is present here in this conference – and this is the youth of this country. Nobody can defeat Iraq. Nobody can break your country.

Because what we see today here is the young people of Iraq of different nationalities, different ethnic and religious groups coming together to stand up for peace and for justice.

The first speaker from the organization’s committee of the conference noted that—social justice is not possible without peace. He spoke of the fact that peace can be built only on dialogue.

All of this reminds me very much of my own country.

My country, Bulgaria, went through its own transition process from dictatorship to democracy. In 1989, when the dictatorship was ousted, I myself, like many of you today—quite young—stood on the streets of our capital defending democracy. I was full of enthusiasm that democracy will prevail in my country, and that peace will prevail in our region.

I thought it would be easy. It proved to be very difficult.

Just a couple of years after democracy came to my country, our neighborhood collapsed in war and ethnic division. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the Balkans in the wars of the ‘90’s.

Our enthusiasm was quickly replaced by the fear that old hatreds – religious, ethnic hatreds will come to the fore and that they will destroy our country and the countries in our neighborhood. So my generation, ladies and gentlemen, very much like you, has lived with both enthusiasm and fear.

But like you here today, I have the strength to carry on. Because the youth of any country, Iraq included, has an important characteristic – and that is determination.

Determination to change. A belief in the future. And the ability to ask questions.

And I hope that as Iraq now faces a very difficult time given the security situation – and as I’ve seen before coming in, the number of initiatives that your organization’s been able to put forward…

You, the young people of Iraq will stand on your own feet. And you will protect your country from those who want to divide it. You will promote dialogue. You will help those in need. Because this is—the only way to build the future.

Sometime ago, Vice President Khuza’i came up with the Social Peace Initiative. We in the United Nations embraced it. And we support all the objectives of the Social Peace Initiative, particularly those objectives that are related to the youth.

When the leaders of Iraq came together to sign the National Honor Code, we were there…

Because we wanted to support dialogue. Because we wanted to send the message that all political, civic and religious leaders must stand together against terrorism. This is why I want to assure you from the podium of this conference that the United Nations will always be with you.

We will support your optimism. We will lend a hand to your ambition. And we will help you consolidate peace in Iraq.

These are priorities that are important for us in the United Nations across the world.

And this is why the Secretary-General of the United Nations has made Youth a specific focus of his work. As part of that priority, we have been able to work with the Government of Iraq on drafting together the First National Youth Strategy for this country. A number of the agencies of the United Nations are present here in this country, working on vocational training, on a number of other areas that are important to the youth.

But I’m sure that you, as many people in my own country, face a serious challenge. And that is the question whether to stay in your country or to emigrate. I know that many people, many young people in this country as elsewhere, want to leave, and want to build a life elsewhere.

But to them I want to send one message.

Wherever you go, and whatever part of the world you end up, your home will always be in here – in Iraq. As you travel to the other parts of the world, the best service that you can do to your country is to bring that knowledge and the experience that you gain elsewhere back here.

If you do that, Iraq will succeed. It will not be divided. And, yes, it will be a country that is rich not just in natural resources but in human capital.

This is what we want to support here in Iraq.

From the United Nations, congratulations.

Thank you.

 

The Cost of Relying on Ultra-nationalists: Bulgaria’s Socialist Government Sparks Diplomatic Scandal with France

03/09/2013 Leave a comment

The French Ambassador to Bulgaria Philppe Autier is a real friend of my country. He has worked tirelessly to promote our bilateral relations and to uphold the very principles of freedom and human rights at home. Bulgaria and France share much — we are NATO allies and partners in the European Union.

When their terms end and before leaving for home, ambassadors receive state awards for their work, but also in recognition for the country they represent. France has always supported Bulgaria’s European perspective and has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our nation in its struggle for democracy and freedom.

Before the collapse of Communism, back in January 1989 then French President Mitterrand invited 12 leading Bulgarian dissidents and intellectuals to a historic breakfast at the French Embassy. It was only through Western media then that people heard of this meeting. In our modern history this breakfast meeting will always be recognised as a turning point in the development of Bulgaria’s then democratic movement. It was a show of solidarity that the people of Bulgaria will never forget.

Years later it was President Sarkozy who was instrumental in the release of a number of Bulgarian female nurses wrongly convicted and imprisoned by the brutal Gaddafi regime in Libya. They had spent eight years in prison and no Bulgarian government had been able to secure their release alone. Again, they owe their freedom to the solidarity that is a key building block of today’s Europe.

Real friends are those who stand by you in times of difficulty and do not shy away from speaking the truth. Most recently French and German ambassadors Autier and Hoepfner made a joint statement calling on Bulgaria’s political leaders to end their links to oligarchs and reminded everyone that “being part of the EU is a civilisational choice. The oligarchic model [of government] has no place in [Europe], in Bulgaria or elsewhere…

Instead of reflecting on the statement by the two countries that have been Europe’s driving force for more than half a century, the current government reprimanded the ambassadors. The leader of ultra-nationalist Ataka immediately called for punishments and asked the Foreign Minister to stop “this unacceptable pressure and interference in [our] internal affairs…

Today, Foreign Minister Vigenin’s decision not to nominate Ambassador Otie for a state award is a direct response to the ultra-nationalist’s calls for “punishments”. It is a callous and dangerous act that undermines the international standing of free and democratic Bulgaria. It also shows quite clearly who supports the current Socialist government — the red oligarchs and ultra-nationalists.

All this is rather sad, because solidarity is and will remain a cornerstone of Europe. It is not just about paying or spending EU funding, it is also about supporting civil society and upholding a political system that is based on the values and standards of Europe.

Ambassador Autier’s active stand shows his true friendship and he truly deserves the highest state award that can be bestowed on a foreign diplomat. Foreign Minister Vigenin’s decision is a cowardly and offensive act of a government that day-by-day is losing friends in Europe and in the international democratic community.