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In Bulgaria, Israel’s tourism minister vows to continue tourism ties

JTA

July 23, 2012 | 2:11 pm

Israel's Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, middle, walks inside the Synagogue in Sofia on July 23, before his meeting with members of the Jewish community living in Bulgaria. Photo by REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Israel's Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, middle, walks inside the Synagogue in Sofia on July 23, before his meeting with members of the Jewish community living in Bulgaria. Photo by REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Israeli Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov traveled to Bulgaria to shore up the relationship between the two countries in the wake of the deadly attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists.

Accompanying Misezhnikov on Monday’s trip were senior representatives of the Israeli tourism industry.

“After what happened in Burgas, we will continue to travel as tourists—in Israel and in Bulgaria, and wherever else we wish,” Misezhnikov said. “We will not reward the terrorist act. We will not react to it with fear.”

The minister attended a memorial service at Burgas Airport and met with the Jewish community in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Later he met in the city with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov .

“Bulgaria and Israel are friendly nations, and we will not allow the terrorist attack in Burgas to overshadow our traditionally good ties,” Misezhnikov told Borisov. “Any change in our relations would be a reward for terrorism.”

He said the two countries have a common enemy in Iran.

During the first half of 2012, there was an 11 percent increase in tourists from Bulgaria to Israel as compared to the same time last year. According to data from the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism, nearly 139,000 Israelis visited Bulgaria in 2011. The same year, more than 8,000 Bulgarian tourists visited Israel.

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