By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Relations between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria have been demonstrating positive dynamics over the recent years. There are plenty of spheres where the countries can implement joint projects and use potential of both countries for further development of economic cooperation, especially within the energy field.
Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria told Trend that new opportunities for energy cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan could be uncovered through the eventual participation of SOCAR in the gasification of the private households in Bulgaria.
Zaharieva said that Bulgarian state set some major priorities which include the diversification of sources and routes for the supply of natural gas. She added that energy policy of Bulgaria is consistent and envisages ensuring energy security for the country and the entire EU.
Deputy prime minister also stated that as a part of Southern Gas Corridor, Azerbaijan plays significant role in building energy connectivity between Europe and Asia.
Ekaterina Zaharieva also spoke about the contribution of this for Bulgaria and the region.
“On one hand – thus, it will contribute to the diversification of natural gas sources both for Bulgaria and for the region. On the other – Bulgaria will receive quality gas at mutually beneficial prices for our country as well as the supplier – Azerbaijan,” the foreign minister pointed out.
Then, Zaharieva touched upon Bulgaria’s contract on gas deliveries from Shah Deniz site, stating that the country signed the contract for the supply of 1 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Shah Deniz 2 site.
“This quantity represents about one third of Bulgarian gas consumption. That is why we are confident that this will seriously increase the security and diversity of the energy sources,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said.
Afterwards, she stressed that Bulgaria considers the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) as a key project, part of the Southern Gas Corridor and its realization is a priority for the Bulgarian side.
“The project is of strategic importance not only for our two countries but also for Europe, including the countries of the Western Balkans. Such connections contribute to peace and stability both in the Balkan region and in Europe,” Zaharieva noted.
Bulgarian deputy prime minister also spoke about general relations between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. She emphasized that Bulgaria attaches great importance to its relations with Azerbaijan and considers Azerbaijan as a priority partner in the region of South Caucasus and the wider Black Sea Region.
Speaking about bilateral political dialogue, Zaharieva mentioned the official visit to Azerbaijan of the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in October 2017, the working visits of the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to Baku (January 2018 and February 2019) and the recent visit of the President of the Bulgarian National Assembly Tsveta Karayancheva to Baku.
Further, she stressed that the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan signed in March 2015 during the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev made huge contribution to development of bilateral ties between the countries.
Foreign minister also noted increasing volume of trade turnover between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan and added that pharmaceuticals are the most important part of the Bulgarian export to Azerbaijan.
“For the last year it has grown by 34.1 percent to $24.5 million according to the Bulgarian statistics. A good tool for boosting the mutual trade is the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation, the last session of which was held on November 6-7, 2018, in Sofia,” she said.
In addition, Zaharieva spoke about mutual investments and fields where these investments can be potentially successful.
“The economic development, purchasing power and financial resources of Bulgaria and Azerbaijan create opportunities for joint investment and cooperation in various fields of mutual interest, such as energy, tourism, construction, agriculture and others,” deputy prime minister said.
Apart from energy field, which is undisputedly one of the most promising areas for cooperation, Ekaterina Zaharieva emphasized possibilities for joint production and supply of goods for the European market and neighboring countries.
She stated that Bulgaria is interested in specific projects in which Bulgarian and Azerbaijani companies can be involved as contractors or subcontractors, for example in the field of construction, in joint enterprises for food production, etc.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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