Greece, Bulgaria open new border crossing to boost bilateral cooperation

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitries Droutsas and visiting Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Marin Raikov signed yesterday an agreement for the operation of the Thermes-Zlatograd border crossing at the Greek-Bulgarian frontier to boost bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The border crossing, which is expected to boost economic and tourism ties even further between the two neighboring EU and NATO member states, will be formally inaugurated on Friday by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Bulgarian counterpart Boiko Borissov.

In a statement issued after the signing of the agreement, Droutsas underlined that this is a decision that “meets the wish of the local populations on both sides of the border for unhindered and speedy communication, one that will have obvious benefits for tourism and regional development.”

“The agreement marks the progress made by Greece and Bulgaria in cross-border cooperation as well as their excellent cooperation in general, particularly after Bulgaria’s accession into Euro-Atlantic institutions,” he added.

Referring to bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, Drouts as underlined that it has been upgraded through the under-construction Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline and the Komotini-Haskovo natural gas pipeline. He said that “the dynamic role the two countries can play in the energy market was highlighted, while their strategic location in SE Europe was utilized by promoting the EU policy on the diversification of energy sources and energy security.”

According to Greek Foreign Ministry, a meeting of Greek and Bulgarian officials is scheduled to take place in early March focusing on bilateral cooperation in the sector of energy.

Droutsas also stated that both sides confirmed their support for the integration of western Balkan countries into the Euro-Atlantic institutions through the recently announced “Agenda 2014” initiative, in tandem with good-neighborly relations, while backing the consolidation of stability in the region through a resolution of all pending problems.

Issues like the management of river waters and an upcoming trilateral meeting with Romania will also be discussed in the meeting.

On his part, Raikov stated that the opening of the Thermes-Zlatograd border crossing will lead the way to the opening of other border crossings like the Kurdjali-Komotini post.

Raikov said that the leaders of the two countries, both members of the EU, promoted the long-expressed demand for the opening of new border crossings, “sending a European message to the two peoples.”

He also stated that “considering the number of Bulgarians who visit Athens for shopping and the Greeks who head for the Pamporovo ski resort, economic and tourist exchanges will be given a great boost by the agreement signed.”

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