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Azerbaijan relies on Bulgaria’s support to get better known in the European Union

The official visit of the Bulgarian parliamentary delegation led by the President of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva to Baku, Azerbaijan has begun. The visit is held in the spirit of a strong dialogue, at the highest level. It is some form of continuation of the visit of Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, which was held at the end of April, 2012. The official program has started with the delegation meeting Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev. At the conversation, which took much longer than scheduled, the two parties have confirmed a clear and explicit interest in developing a long term and mutually beneficial partnership in a broad spectrum of fields - energy, investments, tourism, trade, construction and agriculture having priority. “I am very satisfied that the agreed priority areas of cooperation and the pragmatic and constructive dialogue that we established with your Prime Minister, less than a month ago, is supported by the Bulgarian parliament", said the state head of Azerbaijan to the members of the Bulgarian parliamentary delegation. Azerbaijan is entering a new stage in its strategic partnership with the European Union. We are formulating new goals and proceeding to the implementation of long term strategic decisions, stressed Ilham Aliev. The key message in his address was that Azerbaijan wants to get better known in the European Union with the help of Bulgaria.
On her part the National Assembly President Tsetska Tsacheva noted that the two countries needed a pragmatic approach in finding the crossing point in their mutually beneficial interests. She pointed to the construction and infrastructure fields where Bulgarian companies could immediately take part as contractors and subcontractors in the implementation of the upcoming big scale infrastructure projects of Azerbaijan, estimated at 9 billion dollars. The program foresees the construction of railways and road infrastructure, housing, business and office buildings and a new port in Baku. On the other hand the Bulgarian side emphasized the unique opportunities for all year round sea, mountain and spa tourism that is provided by Bulgaria to foreign tourists. In this respect we welcome strongly the interest of Azerbaijan to set up charter flights to Bulgaria, noted Tsetska Tsacheva. Both countries share the need to develop actively joint investments and particularly in the energy field of natural gas supply and distribution and the construction of natural gas infrastructure and the distribution of oil products on the markets of Bulgaria and the region. The President of Azerbaijan stressed before the Bulgarian delegation that in line with the fast developing relations between the two countries, his country is ready to supply the needed quantities of natural gas to Bulgaria.

The key topic of discussion between the members of the Bulgarian delegation and their counterparts from Azerbaijan was the role of the parliaments for implementation of the strategic tasks set before the two countries. The parties discussed particular initiatives for interaction between the parliamentary friendship groups and committees. The two sides praised the existing legal framework and agreements between the two countries as a good base for development of the cooperation in many spheres. Other subject of discussion was the partnership in the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization in the fields of education, science and social security. The President of the Azerbaijan’s parliament, Oktay Asadov was invited to pay an official visit to Bulgaria at the head of a delegation.

Baku and Sofia follow an intensive schedule of bilateral dialogue: the meeting of the Intergovernmental Bulgaria-Azerbaijan Commission for Economic Cooperation is forthcoming. The Azerbaijan's Minister of Culture and Tourism is to visit Bulgaria in June 2012. At the same time the Bulgarian parliament is to host an exhibition dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.

The Bulgarian delegation included the Chairman of the parliamentary friendship group between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, Remzi Osman, the Deputy Chairman, Stoyan Guzelev and two members Atanas Merdzhanov and Yordan Bakalov.

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