05 May, 2006
Ensuring that the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline stayed on schedule was a priority for the Bulgarian government, as it was for Greece, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told an ANA-MPA correspondent in Thessaloniki on Thursday.
"Yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk to [Greek] Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on this issue. Both the government of Bulgaria and the Greek government want an international company that will undertake construction of the project to be set up as soon as possible, and also that the final clarifications concerning the structure of the company, its participants from the various countries, be made so that it can work efficiently," he said.
Stanishev also stressed the importance of the project for both countries, both economically and politically.
"Both our countries have a direct interest in the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. It is important in terms of infrastructure and economically. Also, if you like, for energy security. But, personally, I consider that it is also important politically," the Bulgarian premier said.
Regarding concerns over a possible accident at Bulgaria's ageing Kozluduy nuclear power plant, Stanishev sought to reassure public opinion that the plant was safe, pointing to agreements signed between Bulgaria and the European Union and stressing that Sofia intended to honor these.
Stanishev was in Thessaloniki for a meeting of South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) member-states, whose leaders and foreign ministers gathered in the northern Greek port city this week for a summit, as the organization’s rotating chairmanship is passed from Greece to Croatia.
The pipeline project was also commented on by Bulgaria's foreign minister and Deputy Premier Ivaylo Kalfin, who reassured that Bulgaria's enthusiasm for the long-delayed project remained undiminished in spite of the unexpected collapse of a consortium of Bulgarian firms participating in the three-nation project a few days earlier.
According to Kalfin, the development will not delay but "accelerate work to complete the project" and the decision was clearly practical, as certain firms in the scheme were no longer an interested in investing in the project, resulting in the establishment of a new consortium by the Bulgarian side.
The next meeting by all three sides involved in the project, Russian, Bulgarian and Greek, is due to be held this month in Moscow, although no fixed date has been assigned.
The pipeline is designed to run from the Black Sea port of Burgas to the northeastern Aegean port of Alexandroupolis, thereby bypassing the busy Bosporus strait.
Source: Athens News Agency