Bulgaria, Greece Must Unite against Macedonia, Turkey in Agriculture - Bulgarian Min
Bulgaria and Greece should team up to offer strong competition in the area of agriculture against non-EU neighbors Macedonia and Turkey, argued Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov.
Saturday Naydenov visited Greek livestock breeding exhibition Zootechnia in Thessaloniki.
"There is a competition pressure in agriculture on the part of Turkey and Macedonia, who are not part of the EU and their agriculture sectors can enjoy privileges not available to agriculture producers in the EU," said the Bulgarian minister in an interview for ANA-MPA.
"We are neighbors with Greece and our ambition is to be able to increase mutual exchange," stressed Naydenov.
The Bulgarian Agriculture Minister noted that Greek agriculture companies already have the established practice of using Bulgarian raw products, and suggested that this can be boosted.
He also called for an increased trade exchange of produce, with more Bulgarian grain products to be imported in Greece, and more Greek fruit and vegetables to be imported in Bulgaria.
In particular, Naydenov stressed that Bulgaria has still work to do in the absorption of EU subsidies in agriculture to achieve the full potential of the sector.
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The first time I heard the word SAPARD was when I moved to Bulgaria to set up a company in 2002.Almost every businessman I spoke to was after a piece of land plantable or barren.Such a piece of land , which was almost for free at the time,and a relationship with anyone at a key position in the government which was so easy(and still is) was enough to get access to lavishly distributed funds,one of which was called SAPARD , short for Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development , available only to Bulgaria and Romania.
Six years on , in 2008 , in a report from the EU , it was stated that almost none of the loans given under SAPARD or similar funds was paid back in the funds' accounts.Therefore the EU froze all these funds.
In actual fact , the money that once belonged to a taxpayer in England or in Germany or in any other EU state ended up in the pocket of a crooked Bulgarian businessman.
So much money was available to Bulgaria but they somehow managed to blow it and it is so irritating to hear them fret about shortage of agricultural support.
So much for good neighborly relations...
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Mr. Naydenov states "There is a competition pressure in agriculture on the part of Turkey and Macedonia, who are not part of the EU and their agriculture sectors can enjoy privileges not available to agriculture producers in the EU,". I'm sure that both Turkey and Macedonia would enjoy the privileges and millions of Euros in subsidies that Bulgaria and Greece both receive from membership of The European Union. If Mr. Naydenov wants more of level playing field in regards to agriculture and trade between neighbors in South Eastern Europe, might I suggest he makes his concerns known next time his party vetoes Macedonia's EU accession talks. Bulgaria's veto not only prolongs Mr. Naydenov 's worries over perceived non EU privileges in Macedonia's agriculture, but also punishes the ordinary Macedonian with whom his party claims to try and forge good neighborly relations. Respect UK.