The episode in which a now-former Bulgarian deputy minister was pictured giving a Nazi salute should serve as a caution for European governments and mainstream political parties against working with ultra-nationalist parties, European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said.
Pavel Tenev resigned as deputy minister of regional development and public works amid a furore over the photograph, which he claims was taken as a “joke”, of him giving the Hitler salute to effigies of Nazi officers at a museum in Paris.
Tenev was nominated to the post from the quota of the United Patriots, the grouping of nationalist and far-right parties that is the minority partner in the Boiko Borissov coalition government that took office in early May 2017.
“The fine line between many ultra-nationalists in Europe and neo-Nazis was once again exposed after this photo of Deputy Minister Pavel Tenev emerged,” Kantor said. “This is part of a worrying trend of mainstreaming the far-Right, but an important reminder that their inspiration and ideology is still hate, xenophobia and intolerance.”
“I hope this episode serves as a caution for European governments and mainstream political parties against working with ultra-nationalist parties,” Kantor said.
In Bulgaria, Jewish organisations earlier strongly condemned the episode and reported comments (which he denies making) by United Patriots co-leader and deputy prime minister Valeri Simeonov. The Bulgarian Jewish organisations said that it was inappropriate to joke about the Holocaust.