WASHINGTON, June 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov of Bulgaria, who flew specially from Sofia to address the AJC Global Forum, told the more than 2,000 people in the audience of his country's journey from communism to democracy and its vibrant relations with Israel and the Jewish people.
Mitov recalled growing up in the 1990s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain created the feeling "that humanity had once and for all ended resorting to war and conflict," and that liberal democracy would take over the world. This was, he discovered, "a great illusion," and his own nation of Bulgaria underwent considerable "instability and loss of momentum" before successfully integrating into the economy and political structure of the West.
Even now, he cautioned, Bulgaria needed assistance with "economic reform, market access, institutional change" and other matters, and Russia's "aggressive and revisionist behavior" posed a potential threat to Bulgaria and other small nations.
Mitov paid special tribute to AJC for its energetic efforts to facilitate Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union, and its help to Bulgaria attain most-favored-nation trade status with the U.S.
"I value tremendously AJC's extremely competent and consistent support over the years. Your contribution to what my country is today is noteworthy," said Mitov. "I am also convinced that the AJC will make further important contributions to the continued strong role of the U.S. in international affairs."
The foreign minister recalled the good relations that have existed between Bulgaria and its Jews—50,000 of whom were saved from Nazi deportation by Bulgarian authorities, even as other Jews in occupied areas adjoining Bulgaria were deported to the death camps—and said that "Bulgarian Jews have become an integral part of society, part and parcel of our community."
Mitov also noted the close cooperation between his country and Israel in the fields of defense, security, information technology, tourism, and agriculture. Bulgaria, he said, supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and opposes unilateral steps that circumvent direct negotiations.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee