By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
Eight hours of talks between the transport ministers of Bulgaria and Turkey have produced an agreement to come up with a new deal on a road transport licensing system to replace the current one that dates from 1977.
This is a sequel to continuing disputes between the countries and their road transport associations which have led to protests and border blockages, the most recent being those in the weeks preceding the February 17 2014 meeting between Bulgarian Transport Minister Daniel Papazov and his Turkish counterpart Lyufti Elvan in Ankara.
A phasing in of full liberalisation of the system will begin, covering the first stage of all bilateral transit permits, Papazov told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio in a February 18 interview.
The two ministers agreed that the new documents would include preparation for a full liberalisation of the permit regime, to cover bilateral and transit shipments, without the shipments to and from third country.
Plans are for the new intergovernmental agreement on transport services to be ready by the end of April 2014.
This agreement will open the way for the issuing of a larger number of permits to third countries, meaning countries that are not members of the European Union.
In the first week of March, officials from the governments of the two countries will meet in Istanbul to begin producing the new agreement.
From March 1, a call centre will be set up to operate at both the motor vehicle administrations of Bulgaria and Turkey, to assist Bulgarian and Turkish carriers at any time of day.
The hotline is intended to assist lorry drivers who have trouble at the border or within the territory of the other country.
Until the introduction of the new agreement, the two countries agreed to co-operate fully in facilitating transport services between their territories.