Together with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we have been able to make tangible progress in important areas in our bilateral relations. If the projects that the caretaker government started after my decisive meeting with it last year are implemented, it will enhance the role of our two countries for more security, stability and prosperity of our region. This was stated by the Head of State Rumen Radev to journalists before the inauguration ceremony of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was re-elected as the President of the Republic of Turkey.
The cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkey is of key importance for the future of Europe, the president said, and added that our southern neighbor is Bulgaria's largest commercial and economic partner outside the EU, and in today's complex geopolitical situation, the country's role is noticeably growing.
Rumen Radev pointed out that together with his Turkish counterpart they have built relations of trust and friendship and recalled the tangible progress achieved in important areas in bilateral relations after his visit to Istanbul in October last year. "After my meeting with President Erdogan at the time, Bulgaria concluded an agreement that gives it access to all Turkish liquefied gas terminals and the country's gas transmission network for 13 years with a reserved capacity of 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year. We are the only country that managed to reach such an agreement," said Rumen Radev, adding that the agreement reached provides stable guarantees for security of gas supplies, diversification and favorable prices. "This agreement positions Bulgaria as an important factor for the energy security of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe," added Rumen Radev.
"Taking into account the profound changes in global supply chains, the growing traffic between our countries and our conscious responsibility to our European partners, President Erdogan and I made a commitment and identified common measures to significantly improve transport connectivity between our countries," said Rumen Radev. The head of state noted the started projects related to the expansion of the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing, which will soon be opened, the optimization of the capacity of the only railway line between Bulgaria and Turkey, as well as the signing of a memorandum for the construction of a second railway line between Elhovo, Lesovo, Hamzabeyli and Edirne, with the support of the EU. "The construction of a highway section between Lesovo and the Maritsa highway is already being planned, so that we can divide the huge flow of tracks and trains into two, as well as the construction of a pedestrian bridge near Rezovo.
"The implementation of all these projects gives a strong boost to trade, economic development and provides new opportunities for our entire region. I strongly hope that the new regular government will take advantage of what has been achieved and finish what has been started", said Rumen Radev, emphasizing that these projects are important not only for Bulgaria, but also for Europe. "If we want Bulgaria to develop at a faster economic pace and strengthen its role in our region and Europe, we must significantly improve our connectivity, which has lagged behind over the years," the president emphasized.
The head of state pointed out that after Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the only route for land transport is through Turkey and Bulgaria, and its volume is growing exponentially. The president added that our country needs to improve its connectivity to meet the increased traffic. "We must definitely take advantage of this for the sake of our economies and trade development and for the sake of helping our partners and allies from Europe," added Rumen Radev.
In response to a question about dealing with illegal migration, Rumen Radev said that Turkey has made a serious commitment to contribute to the protection of our common European border, and the statistics of recent months show the results of the strengthening of security. With the new mandate of President Erdogan, I expect that Turkey will work harder to help all of us to protect the external European border, the Bulgarian president pointed out.
Rumen Radev said he has invited European leaders to participate in the Bulgarian-initiated task force for cooperation to combat illegal migration and human trafficking, which is supported by Europol. The President pointed out that the financial and organizational centers of the migrant trafficking network are in different European countries and a rapid sharing of information is needed for the purpose of countermeasures and coordinated operations on the territory of the entire EU. "We will be successful when we track and stop the flow of money and thereby defund this network," the president said.
Asked about whether it defines the presented project for a regular government as expert or political, the president noted that there are no expert cabinets, and the political responsibility will be borne by the political parties that stand behind this government. "Very soon it will become clear which party has what dominance in the relevant ministries," the head of state pointed out.