Beginning of Meeting with Prime Minister of Bulgaria Sergei Stanishev 2007-03-15 11:24:34 Athens President Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, It gives me great pleasure to meet with you and to be able to note that our relations are developing well. I am pleased to have this opportunity not only to complete the first stage of the Burgas-Alexandropoulis pipeline project, but also to discuss with you our bilateral relations. I know that our governments have regular contacts and that our cooperation is growing steadily. It is good to see that our contacts are developing in all different areas. We are happy with the level of relations we have built up and will make every effort to continue to develop our bilateral ties. Sergei Stanishev: Thank you, Mr President. I am pleased to have this chance to meet with you. The relations between our countries have indeed gained new momentum over the last 18 months, and this is in the interests of both countries. We have implemented very important economic agreements over this time. In particular, Atomstroiexport won the tender to build a new nuclear power plant at Belene. We have also signed a long-term agreement with Gazprom on gas supplies and gas transit via Bulgarian territory, which will guarantee energy supplies for our country and also benefit Russia’s interests. The signature of the agreement on building the Burgas-Alexandropoulis pipeline is also a very important step. I am happy to have the chance to discuss the next steps to develop our cooperation. I would also like to inform you on a joyous occasion – the celebration of the 130th anniversary of Bulgaria’s liberation and the restoration of Bulgarian statehood. A national initiative committee chaired by Mr Prvanov, the President of Bulgaria, was approved on March 2. The minister for culture is also co-chair of this committee. The committee is preparing a big programme of celebrations, and we hope that Russia will take an active part in these events. Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, I fully agree with your assessment of our trade and economic relations. Of course, as we have already said, carrying out the Burgas-Alexandropoulis project will boost Bulgaria’s role as a transit country on the European and world energy markets. We will, of course, do everything necessary to resolve all environmental protection issues that arise. We understand the concerns people have in this area and we will take a most highly responsible approach to these concerns. We are not being asked to do the impossible, after all. You also mentioned cooperation in the gas sector. I am aware of the agreements between our corporations. Bulgaria is set to play an increasingly important role as a transit country. If the plans that we have discussed are carried out, Bulgaria will receive more than $2.5 billion in transit fees alone.