Bulgaria eyes to expand co-op with Azerbaijan in various spheres (Interview)

Bulgaria eyes to expand co-op with Azerbaijan in various spheres (Interview)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 4

By Sara Israfilbayova - Trend:

Azerbaijan and Bulgaria are eager to expand cooperation in all fields, where the sides see great potential, in order to achieve more visible results, Nikolay Yankov, Bulgarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Trend.

The ambassador stressed that great cooperation in the energy field is already established between the states.

“As you know, there is a contract between Bulgargaz and SOCAR for the supply of natural gas to Bulgaria, starting from 2020 and we are working on other opportunities to expand our relations in this area,” Yankov noted.

The Bulgarian ambassador went on to say that there is great potential for enhancing trade and economic relations, cooperation in transport and transit of goods, in tourism, agriculture, pharmaceutics, science and high technology etc.

Further, he touched upon the cultural relations and cooperation in the field of education, adding that these spheres are essential for the establishment of closer ties between the peoples of Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.

“During the visit of Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov to Bulgaria last October, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in education sector was signed and I hope this will bring а new impetus in this important field,” he underlined.

Yankov expressed hope that all the efforts made by both governments will finally bring the desired results.

Tourist flow between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria significantly increased

Further, he noted that the tourist flow between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria has significantly increased with the launch of the Baku – Sofia – Baku flight, Nikolay Yankov, Bulgarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Trend.

“The number of issued visas for Azerbaijani citizens has increased by at least 40 percent since the opening of the flight, and we believe that this year the positive trend will continue after reopening the regular flights in spring,” he said.

The ambassador underlined that the goal is to deliver results that are more visible for the citizens of Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.

The diplomat went on to say that the establishment of a direct flight between the capitals was a very wise political decision made by the leaders of the countries, which is already bringing very positive results.

“Now there are more opportunities for closer connection between our peoples and more intense contacts in business, more dynamic economic relations,” Yankov stressed.

Further, touching upon the simplification of the visa regime between the countries, the ambassador said that Bulgaria does not impose unilateral visa regulations on other countries, but rather follows EU policy in this respect.

“Our embassy works according to the Agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan on the facilitation of the issuance of visas [the purpose of the Agreement, which entered into force in September 1, 2014, is to facilitate, on the basis of reciprocity, the issuance of visas for an intended stay of no more than 90 days per period of 180 days to the citizens of the EU and Azerbaijan]. The consular section of the embassy always works to its full capacity to provide fast response to the requirements of the visa applicants and tries to proceed the documents in the shortest possible terms,” Yankov emphasized.

The level of relation between the countries

He went on to say that Bulgaria and Azerbaijan enjoy traditionally close and friendly relations.

“My and the Bulgarian Embassy’s responsibility is to further strengthen and develop these ties in the spirit of strategic cooperation in compliance with the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership, signed in 2015,” he said.

Further, he stressed that the political dialogue between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan in 2018 was very active.

“In fact, I can say that since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, the two countries have been enjoying extremely active high-level dialogue with regular exchanges of visits in Baku and Sofia, as well as using every opportunity for high-level meetings in the framework of international forums,” the ambassador noted.

He mentioned some of the most significant visits conducted last year, such as visit of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to Baku in January 2018, participation of Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova in the 4th meeting of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor, held in February 2018 in Baku and so on.

Yankov stressed that the dynamics of the political dialogue between the two friendly countries in just one-year period is an evidence of the existing common will of both sides to keep the bilateral relations in the priority list of their respective foreign policy.

About this year’s plans

The Bulgarian ambassador noted that this year, the sides intend to keep up the dynamic of the bilateral dialogue.

According to him, the first, already confirmed, visit to Baku is expected in February when Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova will be coming to participate in the 5th meeting of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor

“Our embassy will further contribute to the efforts of the Bulgarian government for developing active and mutually beneficial cooperation with Azerbaijan in all the above-mentioned priority areas,” he said.

Yankov pointed out that later on this year, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva is expected to pay a working visit to Baku.

Moreover, he said, the Embassy is working very actively in the public relations field. Traditionally the Embassy of Bulgaria uses every opportunity to bring to the attention of the Azerbaijani public more information about Bulgarian traditions and the country’s cultural heritage.

“Last year we participated regularly in the initiatives of the EU Delegation in Baku, such as EU Days in Azerbaijan, European film festivals, which aim at promoting the European culture and values. This year we will continue doing the same. We are happy to see that Bulgaria is well known in Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani people have very warm feelings for our country,” Yankov stressed.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @IsrafilbekovaS

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