The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline and future of Kosovo

The story of the Burgas-Alexandoupolis pipeline seems never-ending. Are you optimistic that oil will soon start to flow through it? Indeed the project has been the subject of discussion for more than 10 years and for all that time the Bulgarians have supported it without a second thought. But there have been hopeful developments lately, especially after the three-day meeting in Athens, where [Bulgarian] President Georgi Parvanov, [Russian] President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis declared their support for the construction of the pipeline and the signing of a tripartite intra-governmental agreement by the end of 2008. Evaluations of the economic usefulness of the project and the stated support of the three countries make me optimistic. The Athens meeting provided a strong impetus to talks among experts where the three countries presented their views in detail, allowing for a maximum convergence of views. There are some clear differences but I am sure they can be overcome since they are mainly related to the way in which the project will be implemented but do not in any way question the interests of any of the three countries. What is Bulgaria’s position on the future status of Kosovo? Do you share the fears that independence might lead to regional instability? As we have repeatedly stated concerning the future status of Kosovo, Bulgaria deems that regardless of the nature of the regime, conditions must be met in connection with the performance of the economy, stability, security, democracy, the rights of the individual and, above all, EU prospects. We think that, regardless of the future regime, the future of Kosovo, as of all the Western Balkans, is in Europe. The matter is obviously very difficult and complex, and solving it will not be easy. We are certain that the Kosovo regime should not directly destabilize Southeastern Europe in the medium or long term. The EU and NATO have key roles to play in that direction. The decision must be solid and functional, based on stable guarantees, such as guarantees of the harmonious coexistence of the citizens of a multiethnic Kosovo, establishment of a climate of trust, to which Bulgaria can make a decisive contribution. The outcome of the future status of Kosovo will affect all of us. That is why we welcome the emphasis laid on the matter by the Contact Groups and [the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process of Kosovo] Martti Ahtisaari. Bulgaria believes that the countries in the region can also participate in monitoring political institutions in Kosovo.

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