NEW YORK (Mar. 4)
Bulgaria will soon re-establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, according to Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.
Steinberg said Bulgarian Foreign Ministry officials confirmed the information to WJC officials in Brussels on Friday. Arrangements are being made for Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens to come to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, for the ceremony, he said.
A spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in New York confirmed that there had been “some rumors” that Bulgaria is prepared to restore relations, but he said that nothing had been finalized. “It’s a little bit premature,” said the spokesman, Yuval Rotem.
Bulgaria broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1967, following the Six-Day War. Unlike in the cases of Poland and Hungary, which recently re-established ties with Israel severed at the same time, Bulgaria and Israel do not maintain interests sections in each other’s countries, the lowest form of diplomatic representation.
But the two nations have exchanged trade representatives.
The Bulgarian officials assured the WJC delegation in Brussels on Friday that “they would move rapidly toward re-establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, once internal political conditions in their country were settled,” Steinberg said.
He believes that ties will be re-established much sooner than the Bulgarian political landscape would indicate, perhaps “within weeks.”
On a more somber note, Steinberg reported that there is little indication Yugoslavia will restore diplomatic relations with Israel in the near future. He cited the internal unrest that Yugoslavia is experiencing as a chief reason.
Steinberg said that the Serbian minister for external affairs had told him that “he was prepared immediately to open diplomatic relations with Israel, but the situation was complicated by the complex federated makeup of the country.”