A Palestinian parliamentary delegation representing the Change and Reform Bloc has arrived in the Bulgarian capital Sofia at the start of a visit expected to last several days. The Hamas parliamentarians are expected to meet a number of Bulgarian political leaders, community groups and noted individuals during their stay.
The delegation is headed by elected member Ismail Ashqar, Deputy Chairman of the bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council. He has been joined by fellow elected members Dr. Salah Bardawil, a Hamas spokesman, and Mushir al-Masri.
The delegation was received at the VIP Lounge at Sofia International Airport by Dr.Mohammed Abu Assi, the head of the Centre for Global and Middle East Studies in the Republic of Bulgaria. The visit is being made at the invitation of the Bulgarian academic institution.
This trip to Bulgaria carries with it special significance as the republic is an EU country which has until now refused to allow Hamas MPs to cross its borders due to long-held political views about the Islamic Resistance Movement.
The delegation aims to explain the Palestinian narrative of the conflict instead of the misleading Israeli version of the struggle for freedom and democracy which has been dominant in Europe. It is expected that the visit will generate a mixed reaction in other European Union countries.