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Bulgaria and UAE Condemn Attacks in Gulf of Oman

14 June 2019 News

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, condemned the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and called on all regional powers to show wisdom and patience.

“We condemn attacks of this kind, and we call for their swift investigation and the detection of their perpetrator,” Minister Zaharieva said. “Every episode of violence in a region like that one can potentially whip up tensions, which is why we are calling on powers in the region to be wise and patient,” Ekaterina Zaharieva stressed at a news conference with Sheikh Abdullah. He is paying an official visit to Bulgaria to inaugurate the UAE Embassy in Sofia.

Minister Zaharieva stressed that the sea-lane passing through the Gulf of Oman, where two tankers were attacked earlier in the day, is important for the region as well as for the whole world because it handles the heaviest traffic of energy resources on the planet.

Sheikh Abdullah also appealed for de-escalation. “The UAE is in a difficult region, but this region is rich in resources that the world needs, and we would like to see a secure flow of gas and oil, which benefits the global economy,” he pointed out. “Those who try to destabilise the region lack superior goals and are past-oriented rather than future-oriented, they adopt a racist rather than a humane approach.” The Minister called on the international community “to enable the voice of reason to rise”.

Earlier in the day, the two ministers and their delegations held plenary talks, preceded by a one-to-one meeting between the chief diplomats of Bulgaria and the UAE.

“I believe that ten years after Sheikh Abdullah’s first visit to this country we managed to agree on all points that you outlined together with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov last October,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said.

Among the understandings, she singled out both sides’ desire to upgrade their contacts to a practical level and to maintain direct communication channels. “The last couple of months alone have seen 12 ministry-level exchanges between the two sides,” Minister Zaharieva said, illustrating the new pace of bilateral relations. “Against this background, the current level of two-way trade is outright negligible,” the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister pointed out.

“With the country that turned the desert into a garden and the sea into dry land and is investing in the technologies of the future, we have a huge potential to advance our contacts, especially in the field of artificial intelligence and high technologies, where Bulgaria is a regional leader,” Ekaterina Zaharieva emphasised. She added that the two delegations discussed an increased participation of Bulgarian food processing in the UAE, but also intensified people to people contacts.

“The 3,000 Bulgarians who live and work in the Emirates place our relationship on a solid foundation,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said and broke the news that the two sides are working for the launch of a direct air service between Abu Dhabi and Sofia, to be operated by Etihad Airways. “Even though the number of Emirati tourists visiting this country has soared from 300 in 2012 to 1,900 last year, this is far below our capabilities, and Sheikh Abdullah assured me that such a direct service will take the statistics to a new level of quality,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

In addition, she emphasised that Bulgaria is among the EU Member States that are closest to the Gulf and possess the most in-depth knowledge of the area. “Our two States share a common intransigence to radicalism and a determination to combat terrorism,” she said, describing security cooperation as one of the most important aspects of bilateral relations.

Sheikh Abdullah told the media that he was honoured to be a guest in Bulgaria, where he was most warmly received. “We will make efforts, together with our governments, to advance our relations and open up new prospects to them,” the guest assured his audience, adding that economic relations, tourism and investments currently mismatch both the importance that each of the two countries attaches to the other and their capabilities.

Bulgaria opened an embassy in Abu Dhabi in April 2018 with the participation of Minister Zaharieva, and today the two ministers inaugurated the UAE Embassy in Sofia.

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