TEL AVIV (Aug. 27)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir arrived Tuesday in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, on the first official visit to that Eastern European country by an incumbent Israeli prime minister.
Although allied with Germany during World War II, Bulgaria was one of the few European states under Nazi domination that tried to protect its Jewish inhabitants, Shamir said on his arrival.
He said he brought with him some “interesting proposals” for cooperation between the two countries, and was accompanied by experts who could implement them.
Shamir arrived with a special asset: his wife, Shulamit, who was born and raised in Bulgaria, and was warmly received there on her two previous visits.
There is a Jewish community of a few thousand in Bulgaria today. But most Bulgarian Jews have moved to Israel over the years.
Shamir said he hoped to make arrangements for Soviet Jewish emigres to land in Sofia on their way to Israel. Presently, they change planes in Warsaw, Budapest or Bucharest, because there are no direct immigrant flights from Moscow to Tel Aviv.
Before returning to Israel on Friday, Shamir is expected to sign economic, trade and tourism agreements with the Bulgarian government. He will also meet with the heads of the local Jewish community.