YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev began an official to Yerevan Tuesday with talks with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian that focused on ways of boosting the presently modest trade between their nations.
The talks were followed by the signing of five agreemen’s which they said will strengthen Armenian-Bulgarian relations. One of those agreemen’s provides for the creation of an inter-governmental commission on bilateral economic cooperation.
Stanishev pointed out at an ensuing news conference that Armenian-Bulgarian trade amounted to only $30 million last year. “This is not enough,” he said.
“The volume of commercial exchange between us is really very small given our potential,” agreed Sarkisian. He lamented the fact that it is dominated by Armenian imports of petrol and other oil products from Bulgarian.
“We can import a lot more commodities from Bulgaria,” said Sarkisian. “And there are Armenian products which would sell in the Bulgarian market.”
The Armenian premier added that he accepted Stanishev’s proposal to hold next year an Armenian-Bulgarian business forum that will explore possibilities of increasing bilateral commerce and other economic ties. He said they instructed the newly formed joint commission to start “serious preparations” for the forum.
The two men also described the existence of an 11,000-strong Armenian community in Bulgarian as a major factor that can contribute to the strengthening of relations between the two countries. “There are all the historical and cultural prerequisites for forging closer and friendlier links with the two nations,” said Stanishev.