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Bulgaria PM Vows to Speed Up Highway, Energy Ties with Serbia

Date: 27.04.2010

The relations between Bulgaria and Serbia have a long way to go in order to utilize their full potential, said Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov during a state visit to Belgrade.

Borisov met with his Serbian counterpart Mirko Cvetkovic, and is scheduled to meet with Serbian President Boris Tadic later on Monday.

“Prime Minister Cvetkovic and I decided to call up immediately the joint Bulgarian-Serbian Commission in order to speed up the finding of solutions to the bilateral issues. This intergovernmental commission has not had any sessions since 2004,” Borisov said as cited by the press service of the Bulgarian Cabinet.

The main issues on the agenda of his talks with Serbian PM Cvetkovic were the major bilateral infrastructure projects including the gas network connections Sofia-Dimitrovgrad-Nis, and Dupnitsa-Nis.

The two government heads also agreed that the Sofia-Nis Highway, which is part of the Pan-European Transport Corridor No. 10, should be ready by 2012.

“We welcome the fact that Serbia will have funding from the World Bank till 2012 for the construction of the harder part of highway,” said Borisov.

In his words, the 60-km Bulgarian section of the Sofia-Nis highway will be planned by the end of 2010, and Bulgaria is going to seek some EUR 350 M in funding from EU programs.

Serbian Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that his country is going to review the Bulgarian project for the construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant, and will decide if and how exactly it could participate in the project, including with potential investments. Another possible joint energy project is the construction of a hydropower plant on the Danube River.

“There is good cooperation and mutual trust between Bulgaria and Serbia. Our Serbian neighbors can rely on our full support for their EU accession,” Bulgarian PM Borisov declared.

His visit to Serbia coincided with a protest rally before the Bulgarian Parliament in downtown Sofia staged by representatives of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia, who were outraged precisely by a similar statement made by Bulgarian Parliament Chair Tsetska Tsacheva last week, and demand that Bulgaria set conditions on Serbia with respect to its EU application such as the protection of the rights of the Bulgarian minority there.

“We have agreed that our intelligence services will work on the exchange of real-time information on organized crime and contraband,” Bulgaria’s PM said stressing that the two countries were working to open more crossings on the joint border.

“There can be peace in the Balkans only if the countries from the region help one another. Serbia must know that it has full support and a good friend in the face of Bulgaria. Both Croatia and Serbia must join the EU,” Borisov declared after his first meeting with his Serbian counterpart.

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