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Bulgaria at Odds with Ukraine over Ferry Line to Georgia

Date: 30.06.2009

The Bulgarian government is seriously concerned by the constant violation of a tri-party agreement for a ferry line between Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and Georgia.

This was declared by the outgoing Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, who explained that the Ukrainian transport companies would constantly break the existing arrangements for the ferry line Varna (Bulgaria) - Ilichovsk (Ukraine) - Poti/Batumi (Georgia).

The Ukrainian rail and ship companies involved wanted to change the three-way agreement for the ferry line into a series of bilateral agreements.

"We believe that the Ukrainian side must not succumb to the pressure and to the attempt to destroy the balance between the transport companies", Mutafchiev said as quoted by the BTA.

He noted that the ferry line must be serviced by companies from all three countries, taking turns. At the moment, the agreement is being violated because of the corporate interests of the Ukrainian firms, and no Bulgarian ships has been loading goods in an Ukrainian port in one month, the Minister explained.

Mutafchiev believes that the violation of the agreement created tension between Bulgaria and the Ukraine that could worsen the bilateral relations. Bulgaria is insisting that the Ukraine government take measures to enforce the trilateral ferry agreement.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev, who was born in the Ukrainian city of Kherson back in 1966, has also been involved in the talks with the Ukraine in an attempt to resolve the issue.

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