Increased dynamics in Bulgaria-Turkey relations

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The last so far Bulgarian-Turkish contact on official level was the meeting of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov with Turkey's Minister for EU Integration and Chief Negotiator Yomer Celik.
Photo: BТА

Turkey will help Bulgaria guarantee its energy security, Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak promised during his visit to Sofia on September 6. At meetings with Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov and Bulgaria’s Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova Minister Albayrak assured that the Republic of Turkey was ready for any energy cooperation with Bulgaria that will guarantee the security of the energy supplies. Indeed, Bulgaria and Turkey discussed possibilities to boost energy cooperation in the natural gas field and the electrical engineering sphere. Turkey showed interest in possible construction of more power lines that would increase Bulgaria’s capacity to export electricity to Turkey.

One month later, Turkey’s Minister of Customs and Trade Bülent Tüfenkci also paid visit to Sofia. The intense traffic at the Bulgaria-Turkey border and especially the lines formed by cargo vehicles at the Kapitan Andreevo-Kapikule border crossing were in the focus of discussions during the visit of Minister Tüfenkci to Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov accentuated during his meeting with Minister Tüfenkci on the significant increase of the trade between the two countries since the beginning of 2017. Turkey’s investments in Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2017 amounted to EUR 24.5 million. Premier Borissov also stressed on the cabinet’s efforts to improve the conditions for doing business in Bulgaria. Premier Borissov and Minister Tüfenkci also discussed the cooperation between the customs services of the two countries and the importance of the timely exchange of information in this field. The measures that need to be taken to fight smuggling and ensure protection of the state borders were also in the focus of discussions.

In November over 500 representatives of the Bulgarian and the Turkish agricultural business attended a forum in Sofia and held bilateral meetings aimed at exchanging experience and good practices in agriculture. The Turkish delegation consisted of 150 people and was headed by Turkey’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba. It became clear after the visit of Minister Fakıbaba to Sofia that Bulgaria and Turkey will restore trade with livestock. The exchange of livestock between Bulgaria and Turkey was banned in 2012. According to expectations, it will be restored in the beginning of 2018.

One day earlier on November 26, Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov held a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Premier Borissov and President Erdoğan assessed highly the development of the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Turkey, the cooperation within NATO and the

efforts of the two countries to maintain security along the EU external borders. Borissov and Erdoğan also commented the construction of the gas interconnectors between Bulgaria and Turkey and Bulgaria and Greece that would guarantee energy independence of Bulgaria. President Erdoğan congratulated Boyko Borissov on his re-election as Chairman of GERB party and pointed out that Borissov’s leadership is a guarantee for good relations between the two countries.

On December 1 Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik arrived in Bulgaria. Bulgaria reaffirmed its stand at the meeting between Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov and Ömer Çelik that the stable and steadfast development of the relations between the two countries was a priority of the Bulgarian foreign policy. Premier Borissov underlined that the active and constructive dialogue at different levels in the recent months contributed to the positive atmosphere in the Bulgaria-Turkey relations.

Turkey’s new Ambassador to Bulgaria Hasan Ulusoy is expected to present his letters of accreditation to Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev in the coming days. Apparently, the dynamics in the bilateral visits will continue in 2018 as well. On January 7 next year Premier Borissov will pay a visit to Istanbul. Boyko Borissov and Turkey’s President Erdoğan will attend the celebratory opening and sanctification of the renovated Bulgarian Orthodox Church St. Stefan. The forthcoming rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Bulgaria’s ambitions related to the EU integration of the Western Balkans is another prerequisite for future increase of bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Turkey.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov


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