Hamas Claims to Have Sent Delegation to Bulgaria
A delegation from Hamas arrived in Bulgaria on Wednesday to meet with political officials from the European country, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported.
The report was based on a statement from the terror group which rules Gaza.
Hamas officials Ismail al-Ashqar, Salah al-Bardawil and Mushir al-Masri were part of the delegation, the first of its kind to visit a country in the European Union, according to the report.
The delegation will meet with leaders from Bulgarian political parties and other community figures, Hamas said.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, however, formally denied the news about the visit, according to the Sofia News Agency.
No such visit has been planned, and no Bulgarian politicians and diplomats have been scheduled to meet Hamas officials, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vesela Cherneva was quoted as having told Darik Radio Wednesday afternoon.
She said it was unclear where Ma’an got its information about the alleged visit by Hamas officials. Hamas is recognized as a terror organization by the European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member.
Last week, Bulgaria formally named another terror group, Hizbullah, as being behind the attack in Burgas last July, in which five Israeli tourists were killed.
Hizbullah, however, is not recognized as a terror group by the EU, and Bulgaria’s report led to renewed calls from Washington and Israel on the 27-nation EU to designate the group a "terrorist" organization.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the EU to follow Washington's lead by designating Hizbullah as terrorists in a move that will notably lead to a crackdown on its fund-raising activities.
However, diplomats have indicated that it is unlikely that Europe will name Hizbullah a terrorist organization because of its political strength in Lebanon.