site.btaUPDATED President Radev: Azerbaijan Is Both Bulgaria's and EU's Strategic Partner
In his remarks after the signing of a memorandum in Sofia Tuesday between the gas system operators of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Azerbaijan's SOCAR, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said Azerbaijan is a strategic partner not just of Bulgaria but of the EU as well.
"The Memorandum reinforces our partnership and will open up new opportunities," Radev said.
Prepared under the Solidarity Ring (STRING) joint initiative, proposed by Bulgaria and supported by the European Commission, the Memorandum seeks to increase the security of natural gas supplies to the EU and Central and South-Eastern Europe.
The document was signed by Bulgarian Energy Minister Rossen Hristov, Romanian Energy Minister Virgil-Daniel Popescu, Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto, Slovak Economy Minister Karel Hirman and Azerbaijan's Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, who is visiting Bulgaria, attended the signing.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Radev thanked Aliyev for accepting the invitation to be a special guest at the event. "Its success is largely due to the fact that Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have a successful long-term strategic partnership. It has entered a new stage in the last few years, especially in energy. President Aliyev has proved that his country is a reliable trading and economic partner," the Bulgarian President said.
This is substantiated by the fact that for a year now, Bulgaria has had reliable gas supplies from Azerbaijan under an agreement signed over 10 years ago, which Azerbaijan honours strictly despite the global political and economic changes, Radev said.
He recalled that in July 2022, Azerbaijan signed with the European Commission a Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy, including additional gas deliveries.
The question was, however, how those volumes would reach the EU. The deadlines set were rather distant in time. Radev praised the ministers who signed the Memorandum for the initiative, organization and speed with which a solution was found – "a solution not only for our countries, but one that ensures the security of supplies and diversification of the entire region of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, as quickly, efficiently and cheaply as possible".
"The war in Ukraine has prompted us to look for new dimensions of good neighbourliness, mutual assistance and solidarity. It has prompted us to look for entirely new efficient solutions, new routes and new modes of supply in order to redraw the international logistics map. This initiative is an example in this direction," Radev said.
Bulgaria's Energy and Water Regulatory Commission has confirmed SOCAR's licence for the EU's territory.
Later on Tuesday, Radev and Aliyev will open SOCAR's Sofia office.