"My compatriots saved their fellow-citizens Jews from the death camps. Bulgarian citizens, the King, the Synod, members of Parliament joined forces and managed to save the lives of all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews. They said, they would not give them, that they would have to be taken with them! Unfortunately, 11,400 Jews from Macedonia and Thrace did not share the fate of their brothers and sisters from the Kingdom of Bulgaria." Thus, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva addressed the participants in a UN conference on "The Power of Education in the Struggle against racism and discrimination - the example of anti-Semitism," organized by UNESCO. The hall received the words of the Bulgarian First Diplomat with a strong applause.
The event was attended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Australia, Hungary, and France - Senator Marise Payne, Peter Szijjarto, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the President of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder.
"Education is the most powerful tool for combatting racism and anti-Semitism, because no one is born a racist or a terrorist. Bulgaria has always been a tolerant state," added Zaharieva. She explained that during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU the fight against anti-Semitism was one of the priorities, whereby EU education ministers received a specially developed manual on approaches for combating racism and xenophobia through education.
Ekaterina Zaharieva participated in the traditional informal ministerial meeting of the countries from the Central European Initiative (CEI) in New York, organized by the Croatian rotating Presidency of the organization. CEI is the largest and oldest forum for cooperation in the region and next year will be marking the third anniversary since its founding. Bulgaria is a member since 1996.
The representatives of the individual countries underlined in their statements the progress achieved during the Bulgarian Presidency in respect to the European integration of the Western Balkans and discussed the prospects for Eastern Partnership countries.
The representatives of Albania and the Republic of Macedonia thanked for Sofia's support for starting membership talks.
"The European Union is the most successful multinational project for peace, but without the Western Balkans it will not be completed. Thanks for the good words for Bulgaria, I thank Romania and Croatia for countinuing our Presidecy priorities during their presidencies. In just six months, Bulgaria has won the support of 26 countries for the enlargement of the Union," said Zaharieva said.
The first Bulgarian diplomat also took part in a ministerial meeting dedicated to Syria, whereby the states expressed their views on the situation in Idlib and the agreements between the Presidents of Russia and Turkey for deescalation of the tension.
"Refugees would come back when they see at least the start of a political process and of the work on a new constitution. There is no way to start the recovery before the political process has begun," said Zaharieva.
At the Second International Ministerial Conference on Syria "Support for the Future of Syria and the Region", held in Brussels in April 2018, Bulgaria announced a contribution of 150,000 euro in aid for alleviation of the grave humanitarian situation in Syria and 200,000 euro for the Regional Trust Fund for Syria "Madad." Additionally, Bulgaria allocated 1 298 805 euro for the Refugee Mechanism for Turkey.