Correspondent's Choice

This story about Bulgaria hosting Israel – Palestine talks was published by EurActiv on 16th August 2010.

Bulgaria is ready to host direct talks between Israel and Palestine, diplomatic sources told EurActiv, following a visit by the President of the Jewish state to the EU newcomer and after the Palestinian President signalled his desire for such a breakthrough.

Bulgaria is keen to provide hospitality for direct talks between the two aimed at establishing a Palestinian state and achieving lasting peace in the region, diplomats confirmed, following the visit of the Israeli President Shimon Peres to Sofia last Wednesday. However, the EU country would not act as an intemediary, a source added.

In Sofia, Peres said that Bulgaria is a very good location for talks with the Palestinians, which have been discontinued since the Cast Lead operation in December 2008 – January 2009.

”Bulgaria is a good, a very good location for us and the Palestinians to meet. I cannot think of, I cannot imagine a better place, so romantic, that it represents an invitation in itself,” Peres is quoted on the website of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

Last month, the President of the Palestinian authority Mahmud Abbas visited Sofia. Asked by the press whether the short time span between the two visits was a coincidence or a sign for Bulgaria’s more active involvement in the Middle East peace process, Peres joked that this was not a coincidence, but rather a mistake that the visits did not take place simultaneously.

Bulgaria has excellent relations both with the Palestinians and Israel. During World War II, the EU newcomer was the only ally to Germany – which managed to save its entire 48,000-strong Jewish population from deportation to concentration camps and extermination. In spite of pressure from Hitler, the Parliament, Orthodox Church, intellectuals and citizens opposed the deportations.

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