site.btaForeign Ministers of Bulgaria, Republic of North Macedonia Underscore Need to Encourage Economic Contacts

Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Republic of North Macedonia Underscore Need to Encourage Economic Contacts
Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Republic of North Macedonia Underscore Need to Encourage Economic Contacts
Over 150 companies from Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia participate in a bilateral business forum in Skopje, Dec. 7 (BTA Photo)

Addressing a bilateral business forum in Skopje Wednesday, the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Nikolay Milkov, and of the Republic of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, vowed to enhance economic cooperation and create a political climate conducive to resolving all open issues between the two countries.

Participating in the business forum were over 150 companies from the two countries.

Osmani said that two-way trade is expected to be worth over EUR 1 billion, which is ab evidence of the good business climate which has been improving by the year. "We are determined to pave the way and create conditions for busier trade, investments and tourist cooperation, for smooth development of bilateral relations," he added.

He also said that businesses on the two sides of the border find a way to interact even though the infrastructure does not help.

Osmani said: "Ahead of us is a decade in which North Macedonia is expected to fulfil the second strategic priority and become a full member of the EU. I do not see why we should not set ourselves an ambitious but achievable goal: to double this EUR 1 billion [in trade] during this period. This is not done by waiting, nor by business ambition alone, but by creating the right conditions for business - infrastructure and energy connectivity, building railways, roads, opening new border crossings, promoting cross-border cooperation."

Nikolay Milkov said that bilateral economic cooperation will create a positive atmosphere between the two countries in which all open issues will be addressed. "There is a huge interest among businesses in both countries to eliminate the obstacles standing in front of it. This economic cooperation will contribute to the development of bilateral relations in various areas that are very relevant today - energy, raw material supply, banking and other areas. The governments owe businesses the development of these sectors. Efforts to implement Corridor 8 should continue and we have expectations in this direction," Milkov said.

Osmani, too, spoke about Corridor 8. He said that the EU recently included Corridor 8 in the Trans-European Transport Network, confirming its importance for the infrastructure connectivity of the region between the Black and Adriatic Seas. "The connection between the Albanian port of Duress and the Bulgarian port of Burgas will open new opportunities for the economies of Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria," Osmani stressed, recalling that the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and North Macedonia recently launched the construction of two sections of the eastern part of the railway corridor to connect the railway network of the two countries, which should lead to a reduction in costs and travel times.

Osmani also noted the importance of connectivity in the gas sector, which will make it possible for the Republic of North Macedonia to get gas supplies from more sources from January 1, 2023. "This is clear evidence of the ability of the two countries to implement concrete projects on infrastructure and energy interconnection," Osmani said. He also expressed satisfaction with the success of cross-border cooperation, which is achieving 100% absorption of programme funds.

A number of further initiatives are planned under the new EU programming cycle, including the development of the Klepalo-Strumyani border crossing, he added.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Milkov expressed regret that the positive trends in bilateral economic relations "sometimes get sidelined in the public attention". Bulgarian companies continue to show considerable interest, including investment, in the Republic of North Macedonia, just as companies from the Republic of North Macedonia show interest in Bulgaria, he added. "The crises we are facing demonstrate once again the need for ever closer economic cooperation. Cooperation between is the best way to mitigate the blow on business and our people," Milkov said.

The two ministers also noted the importance of energy security in the current geopolitical and economic context, which, in their words, is being strengthened, including thanks to the contract signed at the end of October to expand the capacity of the interconnector at the Kyustendil-Zhidilovo point between gas transmission operators GA-MA and Bulgartransgaz.

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By 05:38 on 05.02.2023 Today`s news

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