Germany ready to assist Bulgaria in necessary reforms – Steinmeier

Germany is ready to provide assistance for the necessary reforms in Bulgaria, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Sofia on March 10 after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Daniel Mitov.

The two discussed the investment climate in Bulgaria and the need for it to be improved.

Steinmeier said that relations between countries were built not only on the basis of official meetings, but on contacts between peoples.

He said that 5000 German companies were operating in Bulgaria, 50 000 Bulgarians were living and working in Germany and there were more than 5000 students at German universities.

” All those people who build and deepen relations between our two countries are welcome in our country,” Steinmeier said.

According to Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, the two foreign ministers agreed on an enhanced schedule of bilateral consultations between the ministries of foreign affairs on current issues in the European agenda of special interest for Bulgaria.

These include the European future of the Western Balkans and support for the necessary reforms to achieve a European perspective, including through the participation of Bulgaria in the so-called Berlin process; need for a new approach and an EU Strategy for the Black Sea; the future of the Minsk process and the problems between Russia and Ukraine; the challenges of the situation in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East and increased refugee and migration pressures.

Germany will provide assistance to Bulgaria for the preparation of the country’s first EU Presidency, Mitov said.

Bulgaria and Germany will begin active bilateral energy dialogue whose aim will be to achieve lasting ensure energy security of Bulgaria, including the use of the opportunities offered by the EU Energy Union and European investment plan.

Bulgaria will rely on the support of Germany for the reform of the country’s judicial system, together with successful co-operation to strengthen the rule of law and support to improve the performance of European funds, Mitov.

Steinmeier had confirmed the commitment of both governments to provide maximum assistance, guarantees and encourage investment from Germany in the Bulgarian economy and increase bilateral trade, Mitov said.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, speaking at a joint news conference after talks with Steinmeier, called for German investment in motor vehicle manufacturing in Bulgaria.

“We have no special preferences whether it would be BMW, whether it is Mercedes, whether it is Porsche or Volkswagen, what is important is for Bulgaria to start manufacturing entire vehicles. We manufacture rubber seals, windows, seats, air conditioning, so….components can easily make a big factory,” Borissov said, adding Bulgaria’s low taxes and highly skilled workforce.

“You have seen how many Bulgarians work in Germany. Once they can work there, they certainly could work in this plant. We should create similar conditions here and keep these people in Bulgaria and still get high salaries,” he said.

Steinmeier did not respond in front of journalists to Borissov’s call.

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Steinmeier said that economic co-operation between Bulgaria and Germany could be strengthened further.

Trade between the countries was continuing to grow every year but its potential was not exhausted, he said.

Again noting as a positive fact the number of German companies investing in Bulgaria, and adding that he had discussed with Borissov continuing to increase German companies looking at Bulgaria as a place to invest, Steinmeier said that important conditions were the availability of skilled labour and trained personnel, while prerequisites for increasing investment were reforms in domestic policies, the judiciary, and also redressing deficiencies in the conduct of competitions for public orders.




The Sofia Globe staff

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