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Greece, Bulgarian Leaders Sign Deals, Cross-Border Cooperation

Ευρωκίνηση

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in joint statements with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitros Papamitsos)

ALEXANDROUPOLI, Greece - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Bulgrian Premier Boyko Borisov, meeting here at the 4th Greece-Bulgaria High Level Cooperation Council, signed a number of deals on security, energy and transport and also to work more closely over their borders.

In joint statements, the two said they went to improve a strategic partnership, with the memoranda signed including for the Greece-Bulgaria cross-border rail traffic agreement, said Kathimerini.

That was inked by Transport Minister Achilleas Karamanlis and his Bulgarian counterpart Rossen Jeliazkov and will connect the cities of Kavala, Alexandroupoli, Burgas and Varna by rail, coming after reports showing dismal operating conditions on the Greek rails.

The two countries also plan to build major road networks, one of which will connect Alexandroupoli with Dimitrovgrad, which Mitsotakis said will contribute towards "a new commercial significance of all Greek ports in the Aegean, now connected with Ruse port on the Danube,” they said.

They also agreed to look into the upgrading of the Nymfea-Makaza border crossing to allow trucks and buses through, with the border occasionally being closed by striking Greek farmers and truckers.

The Enterprise Greece-Invest Bulgaria Agency memorandum of understanding will provide for the exchange of information on investment opportunities in the two countries, market research and the provision of statistics, the paper said.

"Greece and Bulgaria have decided to move along the path of peace and development, in our countries, in the Balkans and throughout our wider region," Mitsotakis said at the news conference before journalists.

The two countries also adopted a Joint Declaration on cooperation in tourism. Mitsotakis said Greece is the sixth largest investor in Bulgaria, while some 1.5 million Greeks traveled there in 2019 and Greece remains the top European tourist destination for Bulgarians.

He said the two countries also agree on the importance of "respecting international law, more so in the troubled region of the southeastern Mediterranean."

"The European Union and all member states must therefore send clearer and stricter messages to Ankara," he added. Borisov, battling nagging charges of corruption in his government for years, said especially important was the IGB Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria project, and how its construction, as well as the supply of the required pipes, was contracted by "a completely transparent tender" to two Greek companies.

He asked Mitsotakis to go ahead with required actions that will see the completion of this project within the year, the report said, and he applauded Greece’s handling of a refugee and migrant crisis, saying, "Bulgaria has zero influx of migrants,” without noting it’s because they are barred from entering the country, which has walls.