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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-12

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papoulias: 'golden age' in Greek-Bulgarian relations

  • [01] Papoulias: 'golden age' in Greek-Bulgarian relations

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA - N. Megadoukas) Relations between Greece and Bulgaria were now entering a 'golden age', President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Monday, the first day of an official visit to Greece's northern neighbour.

    In joint statements with Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov, the two men said that this was the best period in the history of bilateral relations between the two countries.

    Papoulias also pointed to the prospects of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania creating a 'Balkan nucleus' within the European Union, following Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the EU on January 1, 2007.

    They had earlier held talks on the full range of bilateral issues, which then continued with the participation of delegations from both sides that included Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Kalantzis, Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas and Development Minister Tassos Nerantzis.

    Papoulias is scheduled to stay in Bulgaria until Wednesday afternoon, after which he departs for a three-day official visit to Romania ending on Friday.

    The visit also comes hard on the heels of an agreement initialled by Greece, Bulgaria and Russia last week for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which is due to be officially signed by the three sides in Athens this March.

    Papoulias invited Purvanov to attend the signing ceremony in Athens, stressing that he will also attend - not least because he had also contributed to the early stages of the agreement when he was Greece's foreign minister.

    The Greek president underlined his satisfaction that the pipeline project was finally on the verge of being realised, after several years of effort.

    Purvanov, on his part, told reporters that he had received "assurances" from teams handling the negotiations regarding the oil pipeline project that the "basic problems had been overcome" and that the three sides were now heading toward a final signature of the agreement.

    "I want to clearly state that Bulgaria is making every effort to promote this project. At the same time, I want to underline that this plan is one of several that must be carried out in the effort to seek different energy sources, not just for our own region but for all of Europe," he said.

    The Bulgarian president noted that the project held the promise of greater prosperity and was a guarantee for security in the region.

    Purvanov's reference to further development of nuclear power by Bulgaria, however, was greeted with reservations by the Greek president. Responding to questions about a possible reopening of sections of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, Papoulias stressed that this was a domestic issue that was also linked to the country's adherence to Community regulations.

    Both Papoulias and Purvanov stressed the importance of opening new crossing points on the Greek-Bulgarian border for bilateral relations on all levels and said that several potential areas of cooperation remained unexploited, such as in tourism. Purvanov said the two sides could also cooperate in the defence industry and in civilian protection.

    Referring to possible cooperation within the EU, Papoulias said the new 'Balkan nucleus' created by the entry of Romania and Bulgaria to the Community gave them additional clout when it came to "pushing for what Europeans must do for the Balkan peninsula".

    Asked about the future status of Kosovo, Purvanov said that this was discussed with Papoulias and he echoed Athens' position in favour of a solution that was mutually acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina.

    He stressed that a solution must take into account the interests of Kosovo's population, as well as Pristina's relations with Belgrade and the surrouding region.

    "We do not agree with a solution that identifies with ethnically pure states, because in the Balkans such a solution is not possible," Purvanov added.

    According to Bulgaria's president, a solution to the problems of the western Balkans should be sought in the 2002 Thessaloniki Agenda on EU enlargement, which confirmed their European perspective and pledged to support their efforts in this direction, including an enhanced economic strategy that bound them to new forms of cooperation.

    Caption: Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, left, and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, right, stand side-by-side during an official welcoming ceremony for the former in Sofia, Bulgaria on Monday,12 February 2007. Greece's president arrived here on a three-day official visit. ANA-MPA / M. Kiaou.

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