FM to Bulgaria as Israel, Balkan states strengthen ties

Israel continues investing in ties with Balkan, eastern Mediterranean states following cooling off of Turkey relationship.

Lieberman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lieberman 311
(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.
Developing warm, 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 this week.
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.
This is 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 visit.
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.