The transport ministers of Bulgaria and Macedonia were scheduled to meet on February 15 to discuss development of road, rail and digital infrastructure connecting the two countries, a sequel to the coming into effect of the bilateral good-neighbourliness treaty.
The day before, Bulgarian foreign minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and her counterpart from Skopje, Nikola Dimitrov, signed the protocol on the exchange of instruments of ratification, thus bringing the good-neighbourliness treaty into force.
The infrastructure links being discussed by the transport ministers will in turn be discussed at a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development forum on February 26 in London.
It is hoped that a completed plan will be presented at a meeting in Sofia on March 1 with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and representatives of countries that are candidates to join the EU.
At the February 14 signing ceremony, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Zaharieva said that since the signing of the treaty, an increase of 11 per cent in bilateral trade had been recorded, along with a 10 per cent increase in tourists.
“We showed that in the Balkans, we can solve our problems on our own,” Zaharieva said.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Dimitrov said: “We are grateful that, with the leadership of Prime Minister Borissov during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, you have attracted much attention to the region”.
Prior to the ceremony in Sofia, the two ministers held a bilateral meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Borissov, where they discussed the next steps to implement the treaty, the future joint projects and the European integration of the Western Balkans.
Borissov said that with the treaty, the two countries’ parliaments and governments had done something good for the countries, but now the practical work would begin.
“In fact, we already have strong funding from the three largest banks – the World Bank, the EBRD and the EIB. Everybody is waiting for our projects, and with their implementation, we will increase the development of the region,” the Bulgarian Prime Minister said.
Dimitrov also held talks on February 14 with Bulgarian President Roumen Radev, who confirmed Bulgaria’s support for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia. Radev congratulated Dimitrov on the exchange of ratification documents.
(Photo, of Dimitrov, Borissov and Zaharieva: mfa.bg)