Vladimir Putin met with President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev at the Konstantin Palace. The meeting was held as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Interaction in the energy sector (energy resources account for 75 percent of exports from Russia to Bulgaria) was one of the key topics of discussion. Cooperation between the two countries, which mark the 140th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year, in other areas, in particular, in culture and education, was also discussed.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,
Welcome to St Petersburg. Mr President, I am very pleased to see you again.
First of all, I would like to say that relations between Russia and Bulgaria are gradually being restored. We see small, but steady growth in trade which increased 2.8 percent in the first quarter.
In general, in terms of absolute figures, we could have achieved much more, of course, but the good part is that relations at the government and parliament levels have now become more active and the intergovernmental commission has resumed its work.
All this is a good enough reason to believe that we are using untapped opportunities to step up our relations across almost all areas.
We are very pleased to see you, welcome. I hope your stay and work at the St Petersburg Economic Forum will be both interesting and productive.
President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President.
Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation to visit the Russian Federation once again and to take part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Mr President, this is our second meeting over such a short time. This sends out a clear message about new dynamics in our bilateral relations, which rest on profound historical, cultural and spiritual ties. This shows that both sides would like to develop these relations vigorously, constructively and on a mutually beneficial basis.
In addition, our countries maintain extremely good relations at the level of governments and parliaments. As you know, Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and NATO, but this does not preclude the development of intensive relations with the Russian Federation even in this complicated situation and in these conditions.
I believe that constructive dialogue and cooperation are key to a peaceful, prosperous and thriving Europe.
We maintain extremely good relations that have rich traditions in science, culture, education and tourism.
We are strategic partners in the energy sector, and we have the required potential for deepening cooperation. As you know, we have purchased two Russian reactors, which means that Russia has a niche in the future construction of a nuclear power plant, regardless of who wins the tender and becomes the strategic investor.
We also maintain a long-time partnership in gas deliveries and transit. I would like to inform you of the following fact in some detail: Bulgaria continues to modernise and expand its gas transportation system, and there are plans to set up a gas distribution centre and a gas exchange. Interconnectors with our neighbours are being built.
This provides additional new opportunities for delivering Russian gas to Bulgaria, in a new direction, in the direction of Central Europe. At the same time, intensive processes in the area of expanding the gas market and the European gas map are underway.