Sofia, July 9, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev has expressed hope that Montenegro will get an invitation to join Nato by the end of 2015, saying that this would be a success not only for Montenegro but also for the entire region.
Plevneliev was speaking after talks in Sofia with his Montenegrin counterpart and guest, Filip Vujanović
“In difficult and turbulent times, the Alliance should take brave decisions. It is true that there is a long list of requirements, but it is true also that Montenegro deserves to become a member of Nato as soon as possible. Bulgaria understands the strategic importance of this membership and will work for its implementation,” Plevneliev said.
He said that the upcoming summit of Nato in Warsaw – to be held on July 8 and 9 2016 – would be of historical significance.
“We will strengthen Nato with a responsible and correct decision for Montenegro to join Nato,” Plevneliev said.
Vujanović thanked Bulgaria and Plevneliev for consistent support on Montenegro’s path of Euro-Atlantic and European integration.
“This gives us the courage and the opportunity to continue,” Vujanović said.
The Montenegrin president thanked his Bulgarian counterpart for the help and support of Bulgaria for the development of infrastructure and transport links in the region.
“Our big goal is to continue the construction of transport infrastructure in the western Balkans. We will be happy for more Bulgarian companies and banks to participate in this process,” Vujanović said.
Bulgaria and Montenegro share a common position on the need for the establishment of a regional energy market through which to ensure energy security of individual countries and market prices for everyone, the Bulgarian President’s office said.
Plevneliev said that Bulgaria’s idea was to create an energy market in South Eastern Europe, covering 12 countries and a population of more than 150 million.
“The goal is to be not dependent on monopolies and distorted price fixing and to have transparency and competition. Bulgaria is working towards the implementation of this idea and is supported by other countries in the region. Political support is becoming stronger. There is not an argument against it. For me the question is not if, but when it will happen,” Plevneliev said.
By the end of the year, Bulgaria and Romania will be the first countries in South Eastern Europe that will fully liberalise their energy markets, he said.
The two presidents also discussed specific joint projects in the energy field.
Bulgaria is interested in the use of high voltage cable between Montenegro and Italy, which is expected to be completed in 2018, and the export of electricity from Bulgaria to Italy.
Bulgarian companies intend to participate in the construction of hydropower plants in Montenegro, the Kotor-Lovcen-Cetinje lift, and other infrastructure projects.
Plevneliev called on companies to participate in the relevant public procurement procedures, which will be held in Montenegro and underlined that Bulgaria will welcome Montenegrin companies to participate in the implementation of projects in the country.
Vujanović praised the interest of Bulgarian companies in the energy sector in Montenegro and expressed confidence that better communication and connectivity would encourage the development of tourism, not only in the region but would attract tourists from third countries.
The two presidents agreed that the level of trade and economic co-operation between Bulgaria and Montenegro did not meet the opportunities and potential of the two countries. They agreed to begin the planning of the next meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation in Sofia.
Vujanović said that this created a good basis for economic cooperation. “In Montenegro we are proud of our close friendly relations with Bulgaria,” he said.
Strengthening the partnership in the Cooperation Process in Southeastern Europe and the European Union and using EU funds to achieve greater connectivity in the region is a shared priority for both parties, it became clear at the meeting of the two presidents.
Montenegro supports the priorities set by the Bulgarian SEECP chairmanship for better connectivity in the region, for transparency and efficiency of institutions and cooperation in resolving crises such as enhanced migration flows, the fight against terrorism and other issues, the Bulgarian President’s office said.