Bulgaria and Greece

by Lambros Kalarrytis

(“Ependytis”, 24-25 November, 2001)

It has been calculated that the old communist Georgi Parvanov’s win in the presidential elections in Bulgaria will have no effect on the diplomatic “honeymoon” which Greek-Bulgarian relations are currently enjoying. Despite this neighbouring country’s unlikely bed-fellows, a former king and former communist as Prime Minister and President respectively, Bulgaria’s unwavering Euro-transatlantic orientation and Greece’s equally solid political and technical support of its joining the EU and NATO in the future, have created a bilateral framework which appears unaffected by reverberations from any re-designing of Bulgaria’s political scene.

Greece has always wanted as close ties as possible between its neighbouring countries and western institutions. Particularly in the case of Bulgaria and Romania, Greece would like to see them soon become full members of the EU and NATO so that the greater Balkan region would undergo political and economic development and would gradually begin to rid itself of the label of “tinderbox”, much to the benefit of Greece and all concerned.

Greek diplomats say that Bulgaria, being fully aware of the importance of Greece’s stance in its achieving its national aims, is maintaining a “sensible” and positive position in its foreign policy, putting aside the old grandiose visions which had re-appeared for a time during its first post-communist steps, while at the same time a cooling off has been noticed in its relations with Turkey. […]

Investment

Economic relations between the two countries are proceeding well, with the majority of bilateral trade continually expanding and real Greek developments in excess of 600 million dollars. It is estimated that approximately 500 Greek or joint Greek-Bulgarian business enterprises are operating in Bulgaria and that they employ approximately 45,000 people, while under the Greek Plan for the Re-organisation of S.E. Europe a sum of 60 million dollars has been secured and will be given to Sofia gradually over a period of five years.

There are, however, a number of political-economic issues which are still pending, but which are expected to be resolved in due course provided nothing unforeseen stands in the way:

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