Bulgaria Encourages Turkmenistan for Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline
The construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline will greatly benefit both Turkmenistan and Europe, Bulgarian Economy Minister Traicho Traikov told his Turkmenistan counterpart Byashimmyrat Hodzhamammedov in Sofia.
Hodzhamammedov is in the Bulgarian capital as part of a Turkmenistan government delegation.
Bulgaria's Economy Minister Traikov has underscored that Turkmenistan and the EU should find a mutually beneficial solution with respect to the construction of Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, a proposed underwater transit pipeline from Turkmenbasy in Turkmenistan to Baku in Azerbaijan, with a potential connection to the Tengiz Field in Kazakhstan that will allow Central Asian countries to export natural gas to Europe by circumventing Russia and Iran.
During his meeting with the Turkmenistan Minister of Economy and Development, Traikov has also confirmed Bulgaria's interest in procuring natural gas from Turkmenistan. He has also made it clear that Bulgaria is committed to supporting the transit routes for the export of natural gas from Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest natural gas deposits in the world.
The project for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, whose gas transit can be included in the so called Southern Gas Corridor developed by the EU around Russia, has been stalled largely by opposition on part of Russia and Iran.
Short of declaring outright political reasons, Russia and Iran have objected to the project on technically environmental and legal grounds - with respect to the status of the Caspian Sea and the littoral states. They claim that a potential pipeline project, regardless of the route, should need the consent of all five Caspian littoral states.
Turkmenistan's Economy Minister Hodzhamammedov, whose delegation is in Sofia for the first ever sessions of the commission for bilateral economic cooperation, has confirmed that the Central Asian country is considering sustainable increase of its natural gas exports to different regions, and is viewing various transit options.
"An indisputable priority in our relations is the energy sector where we have a huge potential but our contacts are still only symbolic," Bulgarian Economy Minister Traikov said.
He further declared his conviction that Bulgaria can export to Turkmenistan equipment and machines for various industrial sector, and to import textile goods, carpets, and foods.
"The Bulgarian market is highly liberalized and open for every country, including for Turkmenistan. Still, it is better to think of Bulgaria as a part of the entire EU and its market of 500 million," Traikov stated.
Hodzhamammedov announced that a total of 20 Bulgarian companies have already started investment projects in Turkmenistan worth a total of USD 7.4 M, mostly in the field of oil production. Other sectors of bilateral industry include textile, chemical industry, machine building, and production of pharmaceuticals.
Traikov has remarked that Turkmenistan could use the experience of Bulgarian construction firms.
"In the last few years, there has been more construction in Bulgaria than in the past half a century, and we have been getting incredibly attractive prices in our tenders for highways and roads. Turkmenistan can also benefit from the services of our construction companies. Bulgaria also has many experienced experts in IT and communications," Traikov said.
Turkmenistan's minister pointed out that the construction in his country is being opened not just for Turkish but also for European companies with respect to new roads but also to the Avaza tourist zone.
Turkmenistan is also interested in international projects for the development of road and sea transport including with EU co-funding; the emerging North-South transport corridor between the EU, Syria, the Persian Gulf and Asian countries is viewed with high expectations by Ashkhabad.
Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Traicho Traikov has used the occasion to invite Turkmenistan to consider Bulgaria as a tourism destination.
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