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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.

Три причини, поради които газовият хъб “Балкан” си заслужава

07/09/2016 1 comment

Публикувано във в. 24 часа

https://www.24chasa.bg/mnenia/article/5747501

Това е първият изцяло български проект, отговарящ на националния ни интерес в областта на енергийната диверсификация Проектът за газов хъб “Балкан” е български проект. Това е първият изцяло български проект, отговарящ на националния ни интерес в областта на енергийната диверсификация и разработен в България с оглед на стратегическото ни положение. Това е дългосрочен проект, по който ще се работи години, може би десетилетия напред.

Дали ще се случи, зависи както от нас, така и от партньорите ни, защото за неговата реализация се изисква сътрудничество с Европейския съюз, с региона и с Русия, която ще продължи да бъде фактор в областта на енергетиката и газовите доставки. Как ще се случи, зависи от способността ни да работим по реализацията на дългосрочен национален приоритет чрез премерени дипломатически и икономически ходове. Неизбежно в този разговор ще се намеси и геополитиката. Затова внимателно трябва да се анализират и използват външнополитическите инструменти, които ситуацията ще предлага.

Първият успех за проекта е мощната подкрепа на ЕС. Вторият — дипломатически успех, дойде във Варна преди дни – инициативата на министър-председателя Борисов за тристранна среща между България, ЕС и Русия по въпросите на хъба. Въпреки обтегнатите отношения между Европа и Русия.

Има поне три причини, поради които проектът си заслужава и може да бъде успешен. Първо, регионът не разполага със собствен регионален газов хъб.

Защо само Западна Европа трябва да печели от свободния пазар на газ?

Второ, Югоизточна Европа очаква много по-голям ръст на потреблението на газ от останалата част на Европа. Защо да не се възползваме от това като държава? И третата причина – силната покрепа, която България получава от Европейския съюз. В крайна сметка България е пресечна точка на важни европейски транспортни коридори и е естествен маршрут на енергийните потоци от юг, изток и югоизток. Страната ни обаче не може да бъде третирана само като територия, през която се реализират проектите на други държави.

На базата на собствена стратегия България може да се превърне във важен газов разпределителен център на Балканите. България разполага и с добре развита национална газопреносна мрежа, изгражда междусистемните връзки със съседите ни, започнаха и проучвания за добив на газ в Черно море.

Докато Европейският съюз е изправен пред историческо предизвикателство – как да удържи мощната миграционна вълна по границите си, никога не трябва да забравяме, че сигурността на енергийните доставки и диверсификацията остават от ключово значение за всички. Както по темата за енергетиката, така и по темата за миграцията, България има исторически шанс, че не сме сами, а получаваме подкрепа от цяла Европа. И по двете теми

имаме нужда от солидарността на ЕС и партньорства отвъд Европа.

И по двете теми ролята на българската дипломация ще бъде от ключово значение. И по двете теми е важно всички да се обединят около националния приоритет за газовия хъб, за да може да започне неговата реализация.

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.