Beginning of the Meeting with Prime Minister of Greece Konstantinos Karamanlis and President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov 2006-09-04 10:07:36 Athens Mr Karamanlis (translation from Greek through Russian): I am very happy to welcome here in Athens the President of the Russian Federation, Mr Putin, and the President of Bulgaria, Mr Parvanov. I am positive that this meeting will be constructive and will result in important decisions on our countries' cooperation in the energy sphere. Naturally, our conversation will focus on the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project. I believe that quick completion of the project will be beneficial not only for our countries, but also for the broader region and for the entire international market. Welcome once again, Mr President. Mr Putin: First of all, I would like to thank our Greek friends and partners for their hospitality. I am very grateful for your quick agreement to discuss our cooperation, primarily in the energy sphere. I believe that it is very important not just for our economies but also for ensuring favourable conditions for the development of European energy and the economy in general. You know, my distinguished colleagues, that energy security was one of the key topics at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg. You doubtless know the major ideas shared by all participants in the event last July. I would like to point out that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project, mentioned by our distinguished host, the Prime Minister of Greece, clearly fits in the context of the St. Petersburg agreements and, as I have already said, will contribute to the development of Europe's energy sphere. I strongly hope that today's talks will be a serious step forward in the development of this project and will also unite our efforts in pursuing the goals we discussed many years ago. I hope that today's meeting will contribute towards a qualitative change for the better in the state of trilateral affairs. Thank you very much for this opportunity. Mr Parvanov (translation from Bulgarian through Russian): Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. I believe that today is a landmark meeting, because for the first time in the long history of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, the leaders of Bulgaria, Greece and Russia are meeting in order to send a clear political message on the project's importance, necessity and feasibility. I am positive that this will be a well considered message, and I also believe that the today's discussion will be pragmatic and will not only center on strategic aspects of the project. There is no doubt that this project will ensure greater geopolitical security, offer new opportunities for powerful economic development and have its own clear social benefits for each of our countries and for the entire region. But the people expect us to take clear, specific, precise and pragmatic steps, and I am sure that this meeting will be an important catalyst for efforts of the three countries' executive branches, relevant bodies and commercial firms interested in carrying out the project, so that it can be launched this autumn and completed at the earliest possible time. Thank you. I wish you all successful work.