Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva conferred with the top diplomats of Kazakhstan, Libya and Tunisia. The meetings took place in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.
“Bulgarian companies can use Kazakhstan as a gateway to Central Asia – a market of 500 million people,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, told Zaharieva. He stressed that Bulgaria was the first foreign country he had ever visited. This happened in 1984, when he was an exchange student in the town of Valchedram.
Abdrakhmanov noted that Bulgaria can use its Soviet-era image as an exporter of high-quality vegetables and manufacturer of machinery. “We still have good vegetables, and one in four automotive components are manufactured in my country,” Zaharieva concurred.
Since Kazakhstan is planning to use the EXPO 2017 complex built in Astana as a hub for developing high technology and promoting business start-ups, Minister Zaharieva suggested that Bulgaria could share its experience in promoting the IT sector. “We have the largest number of IT experts per capita in Europe,” the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister stated.
Minister Abdrakhmanov thanked Bulgaria for its unqualified support for the start of the process of lifting EU visa requirements for Kazakhstani nationals.
“Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was the first European leader to visit Tunisia in the wake of the Arab Spring. Relations with the immediate neighbours of the European Union remain our priority during the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council,” Ekaterina Zaharieva told her Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui. She stressed that Bulgarian tourists are very fond of Tunisia as a holiday destination and pointed out that visits from Bulgaria will be resumed after the country’s stabilisation.
“The European Union is a priority for Tunisia, and 80 percent of our trade is precisely with Member States of this organisation,” Minister Jhinaoui emphasised. He would like to visit Bulgaria before the start of the Presidency in order to present the progress that his Government has achieved in national reforms.
“We support the efforts of Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya, and his road map for political stability and reforms,” Minister Zaharieva said during her session with the chief Libyan diplomat Muhammad al-Tahir Siala. “Many Bulgarians have worked in your country,” Zaharieva said. “It is time we renewed our relations and our economic contacts.”
Minister Siala availed himself of the occasion to invite Bulgarian construction companies to share in Libya’s post-revolution recovery and stressed that Bulgarian builders are well-known in his country for their quality work and competitive prices. Zaharieva said that Libya can take the opportunity to send young specialists to study at Bulgarian universities and noted that this country would like to reopen its embassy in Tripoli. In this way, the on-site issuance of visas to Libyan nationals wishing to visit Bulgaria will be resumed.