Bulgarian Vice Premier Positively Assesses Ties With Russia in 2002

For the year 2002 more problems in the Bulgarian-Russian relations were solved than for the previous decade, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Nikolai Vasilev told journalists on Saturday in Sofia airport. The premier-headed Bulgarian delegation returned from St Petersburg, where the day before the eighth session of the Bulgarian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission /IGC/ on Trade Economic and Scientific Technical Cooperation had come to an end.

According to the minister, a year ago, at a Sofia session of the IGC, the sides "almost started from scratch the inventory of the Bulgaro-Russian relations." As of today, Sofia-Moscow relations are rather good, stressed Nikolai Vasilev.

He outlined three main results of the IGC's eighth session. In his opinion, first of all they include the expected signing of the investments protection agreement. For Bulgaria of particular importance is the forthcoming opening in the country of an office of the Russian certification organization ROSTEST, to do with servicing export operations by the Balkan states with Russia. Regional ties' development, for one, Leningrad-Sofia regions' cooperation, are quite prospective too.

Bulgarian Energy Minister Milko Kovachev, who also took part in the talks, said the Russian side was showing interest in the modernization and reorganization of the energy sector of the Bulgarian industry. In particular, he noted the urge of the Russian partners to participate in the domestic gasification in the country. The minister emphasized that cooperation in the power industry represents a major share in bilateral trade turnover and is very significant for Bulgaria, as the state's power industry in many respects uses Russian raw materials and Russian equipment.

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