Emir of Qatar Visits Bulgaria
Sofia, March 8 (BTA) - Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Thursday arrived on a state visit here at the invitation of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev.
The Qatari state leader was formally welcomed outside the Presidency. President Radev and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani inspected the Guard of Honour and the national anthems of the two countries were played.
This is the second visit of a Qatari state leader to Bulgaria after that of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in 2009.
Bulgaria's establishment as a regional IT centre in South East Europe and the speedy development of telecommunications and tourism create preconditions for attracting Qatari investments, President Radev and Sheikh Tamim concurred.
The two state leaders discussed a number of projects of mutual interest in agriculture, food industry, transport infrastructure, science, education and sports.
A project for a Sustainable Development Institute, based on CERN technology, which will house a hadron treatment centre and will train physicists was highlighted during plenary talks between the two delegation on attracting investments and creating business partnerships. Bulgaria is interested in using Qatar's experience in the construction of intermodal ports and in attracting investments in the development of infrastructure as part of European transport corridors.
Bulgaria's efforts to diversify supplies of natural gas from Qatar were also on the agenda of talks between the two delegations. Bulgarian expressed interest in signing a bilateral agreement.
The talks underscored the exchange of investments and experience in agriculture and the creation of agricultural farms here which will sell their produce in Qatar.
In its capacity as a EU member holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council Bulgaria will continue to back the international initiatives that boost cooperation and political dialogue to stabilize the region of the Persian Gulf, said President Radev. The Bulgarian head of state was categorical that peaceful negotiations and international diplomacy should be encouraged in order to overcome challenges.
Bulgaria thanked the state of Qatar and the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for their support in freeing the Bulgarian medics in Libya.
Later on Thursday the guest conferred with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the government's information service said. The talks focused on the opportunities for bigger Qatari investments in Bulgaria and on the infrastructure projects for connectivity between the Balkans and the EU.
Borissov briefed the Emir of Qatar on recent high-level meetings on the topic, noting that between Bulgaria and Qatar there have been several transactions that were good for the business and the connectivity, but that the time has come for the two sides to set themselves even higher tasks in the area of investments.
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said that the two officials agreed "not to waste time in speaking but to work". The two officials discussed several steps of closer bilateral contacts, in particular regarding investments, the guest said.
Three memoranda of cooperation were signed during the meeting: in energy, education, and youth and sports.
In the energy sector, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar, and Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova signed a memorandum of cooperation in the construction of new infrastructure for supply of liquefied or compressed natural gas from Qatar to Bulgaria and Southeast Europe. Qatar will support the participation of national energy companies in joint projects for prospecting for, extraction, transmission and distribution of hydrocarbons. The sides will consider concrete options for joint activities, including by means of joint ventures or other mechanisms.
Youth and Sports Minister Krassen Kralev and his Qatari counterpart Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali signed a memorandum of understanding which promotes the development of programmes for youth and sports exchange, coordination of positions and opinions during global and international youth events, and exchange of information and suggestions.
In the area of higher education, Sofia University Rector Prof. Dr. Anastas Gerdjikov and President of Qatar University Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham signed a memorandum of cooperation intended to establish effective academic relations and cultural ties. The two universities will cooperate in the training and advance of faculty staff, and in the exchange of knowledge and experience in different areas of science and education.
The Emir of Qatar invited Borissov to pay a visit to his country.
A Bulgarian-Qatari business forum took place within the visit of the Qatari delegation, attended by more than 30 Qatari and 200 Bulgarian companies.
Energy, machine building, the automotive industry, electronics, IT and communication technologies, agriculture, foods, tourism, industrial zones and technological parks development are among the prospective areas of cooperation between Bulgaria and Qatar, said Bulgarian Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov at the forum.
Qatari Economy Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani welcomed all Bulgarian companies willing to invest in Qatar. For his part, Karanikolov also invited Qatari investors to open in Bulgaria representation offices, productions facilities and research centres.
Karanikolov noted that Bulgaria's exports are limited and unvaried. He said that the third session of an intergovernmental commission for economic and technical cooperation will take place in the second half of 2018
Qatari Economy Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani underscored efforts to develop investment and commercial cooperation in areas which were overlooked until now.
Gabriela Kozareva, head of the Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium sized Businesses, said that Qatari companies are interested in investing in real property, tourism and agriculture in Bulgaria. Kozareva said that there is a potential to increase Bulgarian exports including machinery, electrical equipment, engineering goods and services, high-tech products, defence products, building materials, pharmaceuticals, honey, meat, dairy products, and agricultural produce.
According to figures by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2017 two way trade totalled 22 million dollars, with Bulgarian exports at 1.6 million dollars, which falls short of potential, according to the Qatari side.
In the presence of the two ministers the management of the commerce and industry chambers of the two countries signed an agreement for the establishment of a joint business council.