SOFIA, June 5. /TASS/. It is important to develop economic cooperation with Russia despite sanctions and counter-sanctions, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said in an interview with TASS ahead of his visit to Russia's Northern capital to participate in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
"Russia is one of Bulgaria's most important economic partners — in tourism, construction, food industry. When it comes to energy resources, Russia plays a leading role. Our country imports energy resources from Russia for billions of Bulgarian levs, and this import constitutes the largest part of our trade turnover. I am confident that economic cooperation with Russia needs to be developed regardless of sanctions and counter-sanctions - the way our Western partners develop it, especially in the sphere of energy. Of course, important principles should be observed, such as competition, transparency and supply security," Radev said.
Radev noted that he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, and they will discuss expanding bilateral cooperation.
He added that in 2018, the leaders restored dialogue at the highest level after a 10-year break. "Now our governments should make this dilaogue productive. I think that President Putin and I share this hope. The fact that we are meeting for the second time in such a short period of time brings new dynamism to our relations," Radev concluded.
Bulgaria will continue developing mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia in the military sphere to ensure the country's defense capabilities, Radev said.
"The funds allocated by the government are not sufficient to finance full rearmament of the Bulgarian army. This means only one thing, that it is important to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia to maintain combat readiness of existing weapons. Even after purchasing new equipment in accordance with ongoing projects, time will be needed to start operating it. Aviation is no exception," he noted.
"We have established good cooperation in transit of Russian natural gas through Bulgaria. Our country has a well-developed gas transport system that continues to be expanded. Interconnecting gas pipelines with neighboring countries will ensure transit of Russian gas to Central European countries," Radev said.
"Several days ago there was a ceremony of laying down a new interconnecting pipeline with Greece. So we plan to get gas via the Turkish Stream as well. When it comes to prospects, I have repeatedly stated that direct deliveries are the most reliable and the cheapest. From this point of view, it will be logical to increase deliveries of Russian gas via the Black Sea pipeline that goes directly to Bulgaria," he added.
The Bulgarian president has also expressed hope that construction of the Belene nuclear power plant will be completed.
"I think that the completion of the Belene project is inevitable. Three billion levs (around $1.73 billion) have already been invested in it. Reliable energy sources are crucial for industrial development. However, clear legal, time and price frameworks are needed to complete the project," he said.
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will be held on June 6-8 under a motto of "Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda." The forum is organized by the Roscongress foundation. TASS is the general information partner and the official photohost agency of the event.