Sofia and Bucharest speed up infrastructure projects
Presidents Radev and Iohannis vow to support their governments in all areas of bilateral relations
1 July, 2017
The major European river running between Bulgaria and Romania should not be a divider but a unifier for the two countries, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said in his opening speech at a Romania-Bulgaria business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania in Bucharest.
Rumen Radev was on a two-day visit to Romania on 28 and 29 June at the invitation of his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis. On 29 June the two heads of state took part in the business forum’s opening. The Bulgarian president spoke about the need for investments in the infrastructure of both countries. “Our citizens should have better conditions for better connectedness in terms of infrastructure and in all areas of bilateral relations. The major European river running between Bulgaria and Romania should not be a divider but a unifier,” Rumen Radev said, adding that he had discussed the subject with his Romanian counterpart.
“We agreed to make every effort to support our respective governments so that we can speed up all infrastructure projects and the improvement of the infrastructure surrounding the new bridges. They will allow our citizens and businesses the opportunity to intensify contacts,” Rumen Radev said.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stressed the need for infrastructure investments too.
“Regional cooperation will only be strengthened once the road, railway and river infrastructure facilitates the movement of people and goods between our countries even better. This is why the leadership of the two countries must identify concrete solutions aimed at improving traffic conditions at border checkpoints,” said Iohannis.
Rumen Radev also spoke about Bulgaria’s economic growth, noting it has been higher than the EU average of 3.4% for the past several years. “We have a considerable economic presence here in Romania,” said the president, who sees “great potential” in the cooperation between Romania and Bulgaria.
Klaus Iohannis noted that bilateral trade volume was close to €4bn in 2016, with an average annual growth of 7% in the last three years. Continuing this positive trend, the trade volume increased by nearly 12% in the first months of this year compared to the same period of 2016, setting up expectations for a new record figure for 2017, Iohannis said. On that score, he underlined the importance of attracting Bulgarian investments to Romania and incentivising Romanian firms interested in putting money in Bulgaria. According to the Romanian president, tourism, construction, metallurgy and the assembling of parts for the automobile industry are particularly appealing sectors. Iohannis believes that Bulgaria’s economy can make good use of the IT sector achievements in Romania via partnerships in manufacturing.
The Romanian president spoke about cooperation in the tourism industry, reminding that about one million Romanians visit Bulgaria per year, and almost half a million Bulgarians visit Romania. “We want to boost this data through joint projects, including cultural tourism and projects targeting third countries in more distant geographical regions,” Iohannis said.
The Romanian head of state also commented on the regional energy cooperation, which he described as a crucial goal for regional economies. He praised the launch of the Giurgiu - Rousse gas interconnection in 2016 and added that Romania puts great importance on the BRHA gas pipeline (Bulgaria – Romania – Hungary – Austria). “We are confident that the BRHA pipeline will raise our countries’ profiles on Europe’s energy map,” Iohannis said.
On the International Danube River Day, Iohannis also touched on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
“Modernising Danube ports, providing good conditions for shipping and river transport development and building new bridges are just some of the projects that have the potential to make Danube a true source of prosperity for our economies,” Iohannis said. In conclusion, the Romanian president pointed out that an “efficient” legal framework is also needed. “The business circles in our countries require an efficient legal framework that is clear and adapted to the economic area in which they operate. Rule of law is not limited to enforcing the law strictly; it is also a state of mind, strong institutions, stable and predictable regulations, zero tolerance when it comes to corruption. It is the only sustainable way to promote investment, entrepreneurship and market economy,” the Romanian president said.