02/15/2013 05:32 EST | Updated 04/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Bulgaria asks 3 Hamas lawmakers to leave the country; were invited by NGO

SOFIA, Bulgaria - Bulgaria has asked three lawmakers from the Palestinian Hamas party to leave the country, after they arrived at the invitation of an NGO.

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on Friday that the lawmakers had entered the country with regular visas "issued, however, on different motives from what they have demonstrated here." He said they had left the country.

In an earlier statement, Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry said this was an "unannounced visit of a group related to Hamas," and added that they "will not be received by any Bulgarian institutions."

The director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Mohd Abuasi, said he had invited the three Palestinians to show that Bulgaria "is not a completely pro-Israeli country."