President Rumen Radev told Russia's TASS News Agency that he is confident economic cooperation with Russia needs to be developed regardless of sanctions and counter-sanctions - the way Bulgaria's Western partners develop it, especially in the area of energy, given that important principles are observed, such as competition, transparency and supply security, Radev is quoted by his Press Secretariat as saying.
Radev tells TASS that he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, and they will discuss expanding bilateral cooperation. He adds that in 2018, the leaders restored dialogue at the highest level after a 10-year break. "Now our governments should make this dialogue productive. I think that President Putin and I share this hope. The fact that we are meeting for the second time in such a short period of time brings new dynamics to our relations," Radev concludes.
The Bulgarian President recalls that Russia is among Bulgaria's most important economic partners in areas such as tourism, construction and the food industry." When it comes to energy resources, Russia plays a leading role. Our country imports energy resources from Russia for billions of Bulgarian leva, and this import constitutes the largest part of our trade turnover," he tells TASS.
"We have established good cooperation in transit of Russian natural gas through Bulgaria. Our country has a well-developed gas transport system that continues to be expanded. Interconnecting gas pipelines with neighboring countries will ensure transit of Russian gas to Central European countries," Radev says, recalling that several days ago there was a ceremony of laying down a new interconnecting pipeline with Greece. "So we plan to get gas via the Turkish Stream as well. When it comes to prospects, I have repeatedly stated that direct deliveries are the most reliable and the cheapest. From this point of view, it will be logical to increase deliveries of Russian gas via the Black Sea pipeline that goes directly to Bulgaria," he tells the Russian News Agency.
Commenting the Belene N-plant project, Radev says that its completion is inevitable, as some 3 billion leva of Bulgarian taxpayers' money have been invested into it, while a developing industry will need reliable energy sources. However, clear legal, time and price frameworks are needed to complete the project, the Bulgarian President explains.
Asked to rate bilateral relations on a scale of one to ten, Radev says that the relations between Bulgaria and Russia are a thousand years old and the historical ties are very strong, his Press Secretariat said.
Commenting what prevents the lifting of sanctions, imposed by the EU and the Russian Federation, Radev says that the conditions for lifting the sanctions, formulated by the Council of the EU, are connected with the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by both Russia and Ukraine.
Answering a question whether Russia is truly a threat to Europe's security and against whom NATO's expansion is directed, the Bulgarian President is quoted by his Press Secretariat as telling TASS that he finds wrong the paradigm that guaranteeing a country's security should happen at the expense of another country's. Such a formula leads to instability, mistrust and risks. The NATO membership of the Western Balkan countries, which Bulgaria supports, aims to contain the conflict potential of this complicated region, Radev says, adding that there is no way North Macedonia's NATO accession can be a threat to anyone. LI/MY