Bulgaria’s regional activity culminated last week in the quadrilateral summit in Varna with Greece, Romania and Serbia. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also attended the event at the invitation of Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov. In the beginning of the new week Bulgaria will participate at a regional meeting in Bucharest dedicated to the opening of Romania’s Presidency of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region. Both events accentuate on common regional projects. The Varna quadrilateral summit (Bulgaria-Greece-Romania-Serbia) focused on the diversification of gas supplies in the Balkans through the construction of the Balkan gas hub near Varna and a Greek liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Alexandroupolis. The participants at the Varna summit also discussed development of the rail infrastructure between the countries and possible access to foreign piers. The upgrade of the Danube Strategy Action Plan initiated by the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region will be discussed at the meeting in Bucharest on November 5 and 6. Nine EU countries- Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria as well as Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova and Ukraine are participating at the strategy. Bulgaria invited Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu to join the quadrilateral summit last week. It became clear after the meeting that Israel can contribute to the diversification of the gas supplies to the Balkans through the Eastern Mediterranean (East-Med) gas pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian cabinet presented in South Korea possibilities for Korean companies to participate in the construction of a number of road and infrastructure projects in Bulgaria based on public-private partnership such as the construction of Hemus and Black Sea (Cherno More) motorways which are part of the European transport network as well as the Ruse-Veliko Tarnovo motorway which is part of the Pan European Transport Corridor № 9. Several days before the meeting in South Korea Azerbaijan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov visited Bulgaria. Minister Mammadyarov discussed with his Bulgarian counterpart Ekaterina Zaharieva topics related to gas supplies and infrastructure projects. In Minister Zaharieva’s view, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have not utilized their full potential for cooperation in power engineering and transport. Further development in bilateral dialogue can be expected in the beginning of 2019 when Premier Borissov will pay a working visit to Baku. Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Zaharieva arrived on a working visit in the USA. On November 5 and 6 Minister Zaharieva will discuss bilateral, regional and global topics with the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the National Democratic Institute’s Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe Robert Benjamin.
A popular Bulgarian political observer described last week’s quadrilateral summit in Varna as a move that will legitimize the establishment of a new entity called Balkan Benelux. The facts before and after the event prove that the quadrilateral summit is an element of a regional policy of a much broader scope.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov