Russia and Bulgaria in energy deals

MOSCOW (AFP) – The leaders of Russia and Bulgaria focused on energy cooperation yesterday during Kremlin talks marking the 125th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two traditional allies. Bulgaria relies heavily on Russian goods, especially oil, natural gas and fuel for its nuclear reactors and Moscow is seeking to preserve its markets there even while Sofia eyes European Union membership in 2007. Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov in opening remarks that energy cooperation allowed Moscow to preserve close ties with its Soviet-era satellite. «Russian companies are interested in investing in the (Bulgarian) energy sector, and especially in electricity,» Putin told Parvanov. He added that Russia was interested in the privatization of Bulgargaz, the country’s energy holding group. Russia’s Atamonegorexport agency is further seeking to develop a new Bulgarian nuclear reactor and Parvanov said his government is close to reaching a decision on the offer.