President Purvanov: "Bulgaria Ready to Buy about 1,000 Mln cu m Natural Gas from Azerbaijan"

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President Purvanov:

Bulgaria is ready to buy about 1,000 million cu m of natural gas from Azerbaijan very soon, President Georgi Purvanov said Monday, emerging from a meeting with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev. Purvanov is paying a working visit to Azerbaijan.

This quantity of gas is Bulgaria's quota under the EU priority NABUCCO project, which has to transport gas from the Caspian region to Europe. These supplies can reach Bulgaria by
connecting the Bulgarian gas network with the Turkey-Greece gas pipeline, Purvanov pointed out. Bulgaria already has a project for a branch to our country, to which end a gas pipeline from Haskovo (Southern Bulgaria) to Komotini (Greece) has to be built.

"As committed to the energy security of Europe Bulgaria is here with the message to boost work on the European NABUCCO project," the Bulgarian President said before his Azeri counterpart and underscored that Azerbaijan could have a principal role of supplier of a considerable part of the natural gas for the project.

Purvanov suggested that the experts, competent ministers and energy companies from the two countries discuss the opportunities for active inclusion of Azerbaijan in the implementation of some of the European energy projects, including the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. He also declared Bulgaria's readiness to participate in the survey, extraction and transportation of natural gas from Azerbaijan.

President Aliyev agreed to the idea of President Purvanov on the holding of an interregional conference at which the countries of the Balkan, Black Sea and Caspian regions will explore opportunities for energy diversification.

The two heads of state commented on the launch of a direct air service between Sofia and Baku. "This time we are categorical that a direct service must be in place by the autumn of 2008. It can combine Sofia and some other Balkan capital as a destination," Purvanov said.

Regarding the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, President Purvanov confirmed Bulgaria's position in support of the efforts of the OSCE Minski Group.

Aliyev stressed his country's position that the EU Member States must clearly and openly issue a message that Nagorno-Karabakh will never be independent and that no country will recognize its independence.

Asked about Kosovo, Purvanov attached paramount importance to the EU position that the Kosovo case is sui generis and does not set a precedent for another similar situation in any part of Europe or nearby areas.

This is Purvanov's second visit to Azerbaijan after his official visit in October 2004. His Azeri counterpart Aliyev paid an official visit to Bulgaria in September 2005.

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