site.btaUPDATED Bulgaria and Greece Proved that Two Countries Can Put Behind Issues of the Past, President Radev Says
Bulgaria and Greece have proved that two countries and two peoples can put behind issues of the past and develop a strategic partnership based on our European values, President Rumen Radev said at a briefing after he awarded Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou with the Order of the Balkan Range with a ribbon for her services to the development of bilateral relations.
"Today's visit of the President of Greece is a highlight in the extremely dynamic relations between our two countries over the past year and is an expression of the excellent level of cooperation between Bulgaria and Greece," Radev said. In the President's words, the development of bilateral relations is of strategic importance for security, peace and prosperity in the entire region.
According to Radev, Bulgaria and Greece have made progress in many areas in recent years. "Even in the years of the pandemic, in the last three years alone two-way trade has increased by more than EUR 1 billion," the Head of State said.
Trade between the two countries has reached EUR 4.5 billion, the President noted.
Migration, as one of the biggest challenges for Greece and Bulgaria as countries on the EU external border, requires more solidarity from our European partners, Radev said. "Before building borders and barriers inside the European Union, we must realize that in fact the support, the investments, the aid should come to the front-line countries, so that all of us together can show more solidarity in protecting the external borders of the EU, where Greece and Bulgaria have the difficult task of guarding together the EU's longest land border in the way of the migrant flow," he said.
He went on to speak about the significant contribution of the two countries to the development of energy connectivity in the region. "What Bulgaria and Greece have done by building on their own and at the highest level of technology the gas interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria, has contributed not only to raising the image, the technological capability of our countries, but also to the real diversification of gas supplies for the region of Central and Eastern Europe," the President said.
Bulgaria is very much interested and is making efforts together with Greece for the liquefied gas terminal in Alexandroupolis to be completed on time and for this country to be able to receive liquefied gas from this terminal next year, the President said. He recalled that Bulgaria has a 20% share in the terminal.
Greece receives over 30% of its electricity from Bulgaria, as well as over 45% of its wheat imports, Radev added. "It is critical for us to resume the long-forgotten oil pipeline project between Burgas and Alexandroupolis, but this time to reverse the direction - from Alexandroupolis to Burgas. This will enable the supply of a critically important resource not only to Bulgaria, but also to Romania, Ukraine and other countries of the Black Sea basin," he said.
Asked by a reporter to comment the refusal of the Netherlands and Austria to support Bulgaria's entry in Schengen, Radev reiterated that Bulgaria has fulfilled all technical criteria for Schengen accession since 2011. "We call on those countries that have not yet given their consent to come to understand that the sooner Bulgaria joins the Schengen area, the sooner we will be able to shift forces and resources from the borders with Greece and Romania to the EU external border - the one with Turkiye," the head of State added. He added that it does not make sense to keep Bulgaria and Romania out of Schengen.