(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman traveled to Bulgaria on Thursday, in a further
sign of the energy Israel is devoting to developing close ties with an arc of
countries in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.
strategic relationships with Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia
and Albania has – since the deterioration of ties with Turkey – turned into one
of Israel’s central foreign policy objectives.
For example, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Cyprus last month, the firstever visit there
by an Israeli prime minister, to discuss energy cooperation. There are regular
cabinet-level visits by Greek and Israeli officials to each other’s capitals,
with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dmitrios Dollis having visited Israel earlier
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic visited Israel in mid-
February, and Israel recently announced that it was soon going to open a new
embassy in Tirana, the capital of Albania.
Bulgaria is one of the
friendliest countries toward Israel in the European Union.
Liberman’s second visit to Sofia in 15 months, and follows Netanyahu’s trip
there in July – the first to Bulgaria in 20 years by an Israeli prime minister.
Eight Israeli cabinet ministers joined him in Sofia for a joint
government-to-government meeting. Netanyahu also went to Romania during that
Just before Thursday’s trip, Liberman issued a statement saying he
attributed “great importance” to strengthening the ties with Bulgaria, and that
the close ties were beneficial to both countries in many spheres.