TEL AVIV (May. 3)
Bulgaria on Thursday became the fourth Eastern European country to renew diplomatic relations with Israel, broken in 1967 following the Six-Day War.
Bulgaria’s restoration of ties with Israel follows those by Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Only Yugoslavia and Albania among the Eastern bloc nations have so far held out against a resumption of relations.
The agreement was signed in Sofia on Thursday morning by Foreign Minister Moshe Arens and his Bulgarian counterpart, Boiko Dimitrov. The ceremony had been postponed two weeks due to turmoil in the caretaker Israeli government.
Arens noted at the ceremony, which took place at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, that Israel had always held special regard for the people of Bulgaria.
He recalled the refusal of then Bulgarian King Boris to hand over the Jews of his country to the Nazis. “Fifty years ago, the Jews were abandoned by almost everybody in the world. Only one nation, the Bulgarian people, took the risk of savings its Jewish community,” he said.
Bulgaria and Israel have special ties at this time. Israel’s first lady, Shulamit Shamir, is a native of Bulgaria. She visited there in 1986, at the invitation of the head of the Jewish community, with an understanding even then that the government was smiling at the invitation.
To mark the renewal of relations, the Israeli Cinematheques in the main towns — cinemas that show older or classic films — are this weekend showing recently made Bulgarian films.
A delegation from the Bulgarian Film Institute was due in Israel Thursday night to attend the screenings.