Bulgarian PM Discussing Gas Link, Border Protection with Greek Foreign Minister
Diversification of sources and routes of natural gas supply is among the top priorities of Bulgaria’s government, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said at a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
Therefore, the construction of gas interconnectors with neighbouring countries and Greece in particular is of key importance for Bulgaria, Borisov has said, referring to the pipeline that would link the gas transmission systems of the two southeast European neighbours.
"This is a strategically important project not only for Bulgaria and Greece but for the whole region of southeastern Europe," Borisov said at Monday’s meeting with Kotzias, according to a statement from the government press office in Sofia.
Nikos Kotzias is in Bulgaria for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the countries of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).
The increased state guarantee – from EUR 80 M in 2015 to EUR 110 M in this year’s budget – clearly indicates the strong commitment of Bulgaria’sgovernment to the project, Borisov said. He also highlighted the Greek government’sefforts to create all conditions for the implementation of the gas interconnection project.
The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) is expected to enter into commercial operation in the middle of 2018. Bulgaria and Greece signed the final investment decision for the project in late 2015. The interconnector will give Bulgaria access to the future Southern Gas Corridor and reduce the country’s almost total dependence on Russian gas supplies via a single pipeline crossing Ukraine.
Borisov said that the second phase of the market test project for submission of binding bids for IGB capacity is expected to be launched next month.
In the first phase, which closed last month, nine companies placed offers for booking a total of 4.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year of the capacity of the interconnector.
Borissov and Kotzias also discussed the measures which the governments in Sofia and Athens had taken to curb migrant influx into Europe, as well as the common problems that both countries face in protection the European Union’sexternal borders.
Borisov and Kotzias estimated as successful the cooperation between the law enforcement authorities of Bulgaria and Greece in tackling the migration flow. They also pointed to the positive impact of the agreement for police and customs cooperation between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey signed earlier this month.
Thanks to these joint efforts migration pressure on the common border has decreased significantly, Borisov noted at the meeting with Kotzias, according to the statement.
Borisov added that the rapid readmission of irregular migrants detained at Bulgaria’s border with Greece last week was an example of successful bilateral cooperation.