BULGARIAN PRESIDENT GEORGY PARVANOV'S INTERVIEW TO ARMENPRESS



YEREVAN, OCTOBER 4, ARMENPRESS: In an exclusive interview with
Armenpress news agency, Bulgaria's president Georgy Parvanov, who
arrives on October 5in Armenia at the invitation of president Robert
Kocharian, said there are now all preconditions for both nations to
boost their relations in all areas. "Bulgarians and Armenians are
tied together not only by traditionally friendly reciprocal feelings
and historically close relations, but also by contemporary domestic
and international political processes, which make your country a
perspective partner of Bulgaria in the strategically important South
Caucasian region," he said.

"I assess the two meetings between Armenian and Bulgarian
presidents held within one year as manifestation of the reciprocal
readiness to further consolidate the regular and fruitful political
dialogue between the two countries that plays a crucial role in giving
a fresh muscle to the entire complex of bilateral relations,"
president Parvanov said, adding also that his talks with Kocharian in
Yerevan will serve as a basis to analyze what has been achieved so far
and to also specify next moves for solution of concrete issues.

Georgy Parvanov also underscored positive tendencies in development
of relations between Armenian and Bulgarian ministries, administrative
and business structures on the regional level, which he said were
evidence of maturity and efficiency of bilateral political
partnership, but added that there is still a great deal of unused
potential.

In response to a question whether the Bulgarian-Armenian
cooperation was sufficient for European integration process, as well
as for their interaction within international organizations Georgy
Parvanov said his country is interested in strengthening security,
democratic development and prosperityof the South Caucasian
states. "The successful development of Armenia and other countries of
the region is largely dependent on how clearly they perceive their
European perspective," he said.

"I believe that Bulgaria's successful process of joining the
European Union, as well as the interest, shown by Armenia to
Bulgaria's experience in this area create excellent preconditions for
making their cooperation an important component of bilateral relations
regarding the European integration and a key factor of their further
development. And because of that I hail Armenia's inclusion in Wider
Europe, New Neighbors Initiative, and hope that it will result in a
serious progress in its relations with the European Union and
Bulgaria. As a future member of the EU Bulgaria will make its
contribution to the development of such relations. I believe that
deepening of these processes will also result in a new dynamism in
Armenian-Bulgarian relations," Parvanov said.

Bulgaria's president also lauded Armenia's intention to continue
and deepen cooperation with NATO through its Partnership for Peace
program and other forms of Euro-Atlantic cooperation. "As a member of
NATO Bulgaria is ready for active cooperation with Armenia in the
general strive towards expanding the zone of stability and security in
the Black Sea basin and the Caucasus," hesaid.

According to Parvanov, there is also a development potential,
offered by such a specific regional organization as the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation (BSEC) that should not be overlooked. "We have to
realize that BSEC's development prospects are tied to a great extent
to European integration processes," he said, adding that not only in
regional, but also in a more global perspective Bulgaria and Armenia
are not only interested, but have to interact closely in fighting
against international terrorism, the most dangerous challenge to the
peace and stability.

In response to a question about whether the Armenian-Bulgarian
Business conference held on the sidelines of a last year visit by
Armenian President Robert Kocharian to Bulgaria has contributed to the
development of bilateral economic cooperation Georgy Parvanov said: "
Though I risk to introduce a negative element in the generally high
assessment of the current Armenian-Bulgarian relations, I have to
state that the trade and economic cooperation between the two
countries does not meet the level of political dialogue, but the
growing tendency that started last year is very optimistic," he said.

He said the Bulgarian-Armenian Business Forum was very important,
first of all because business communities in both countries started
looking at one another as perspective business partners, who can
develop wide economic ties on the basis of modernized
legal-contractual basis that is in line with market requirements,
supported also by the two countries' membership in the World Trade
Organization. He added that now economic entities and business circles
haveto directly support trade. "It is now the time to think about
establishing a permanently working joint business forum that would be
a significant support to the activities of the intergovernmental
commission for economic, scientificand technical cooperation, whose
work in the several years has been positive.

According to Bulgaria's president, the most perspective branch of
cooperation among the two countries is transport. "Bulgaria is
interested in getting established as Europe's transport "gates" to
Armenia and other South Caucasian and Central Asian
countries. Contacts in this area can develop both on bilateral level,
within the frameworks of TRACECA project, as well as within the
BSEC. "Another such area are mutual investments. Now both countries
are home of foreign investments, concurrently the national capital in
both is gearing up and needs to be supported and encouraged by a 1995
signed agreement on assistance and mutual protection of investments. I
would like to mention a concrete example of jointly implemented
investment project, a winery built near Yerevan with Bulgarian
technical assistance," he said. According to Parvanov, thereare
possibilities also for cooperation in energy, including also nuclear
energyand nuclear security, agriculture and in scientific researches.

In response to a question how he could assess the OSCE Minsk
grouprole in the process of the regulation of Nagorno Karabagh
conflict Georgy Parvanov said his country assesses positively and
supports the OSCE Minsk group and is ready to continue to render its
assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan in their efforts to find a
long-lasting and mutually acceptable peace formula for ending the
Nagorno Karabagh conflict. Georgy Parvanov said efforts now should be
focused on preventing tension on the line of contact and reaching a
constructive and efficient dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"The meetings between Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers within
the frameworks of so-called Prague process, as well as the meetings of
presidents Aliyev and Kocharian in Warsaw and Astana this year with
participation of the OSCE Minsk group cochairmen are important steps
in that direction. I believe that there is a real possibility in
making a breakthrough in the negotiation process," he said, adding
that Bulgaria will continue, after termination ofits chairmanship in
the OSCE, to support the efforts, directed at the establishment of
inter-ethnic tolerance and peaceful co-existence, economic
rehabilitation and development of the region, attraction of the
support of other international organizations and donors for
implementation of projects, able to produce economic results.

President Parvanov was also asked to comment on the role of the
Armenian community of Bulgaria in the strengthening of bilateral
ties." It gives me a pleasure to answer this question. The Armenian
Diaspora of Bulgaria plays a significant role in public, political and
spiritual life of the country, making its contribution to further
strengthening of ties between the two nations. The Armenian cultural
organization Yerevan, Armenian churches, the Armenian school in
Plovdiv function effectively. Besides, Armenian is taught in seven
other schools in Sofia, Rusa, Varna, Pazarjik, Sliven, Dobrich and
Burgas," he said.

"We shall be counting on the Armenian community's knowledge, ideas
and its possibilities in future as well in order to expand contacts
between ourtwo nations. I would like the youth in our countries, both
from the viewpoint of our historical fate and mutual sympathizes, as
well as in the context of our common European future to establish firm
communication skills in culture, education, sports and culture. During
president Kocharian's visit to Bulgaria we reached concrete
arrangements in some of these areas. Now we have to fill them with
concrete content, to find new and modern forms of interaction and make
spiritual ties an integral part of our everyday life, but not an
element of official visits' programs." he said.