Led by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, the cabinets of the two countries held a historic first joint meeting in Sofia on July 27 2010, adopting a joint declaration on setting up a High-Level Co-operation Council. Before the meeting, Borissov and Papandreou held talks, as did several ministers, including Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traicho Traikov and Greece's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov met Greek counterpart Michalis Chrysochoidis. Borissov said that issues discussed included the Bourgas - Alexandroupolis pipeline, about which he said that Greece had shown understanding of Bulgaria's concerns about the safety of the environment in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Bourgas. Papandreou said that like Bulgaria, Greece also was awaiting the environmental impact assessment of the project. Greece had expressed support for Bulgaria joining the European Union's Schengen visa zone, Borissov said. According to Bulgarian National Radio, co-operation was reaffirmed also on the management of the waters of the three rivers that Bulgaria, and Greece have in common, the Maritsa, the Struma, and the Mesta. Systems for early warning of high waters related to the energy policies of the two neighbouring countries will be built, Borissov and Papandreou said. The Greek prime minister said that it was important also to see relations between Bulgaria and Greece in the context of the Balkans. Historically, there had been difficult times when the two countries were in opposing camps, which made the progress that the two countries had achieved a very powerful message and a valuable example, and the close relationship had provided stability in the Balkans and in Europe. "Drawing from the example of our two countries, Greece, is carrying out the so-called Agenda 2004 of the Western Balkans - an initiative that is built on the dynamics of the movements of these countries in the EU," local news agency Focus quoted Papandreou as saying. He said that 2010 marks 130 years of diplomatic relations between Greece and Bulgaria, which is the basis for co-operation at all levels. "Today, we give a powerful impetus to our cooperation in many areas," Papandreou said, giving economic and energy co-operation as an example.
Agreements signed during PM's visit
Greek and Bulgarian ministers signed on Tuesday a number of bilateral agreements for cooperation in various issues, in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, after the founding meeting of a Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Council held in Sofia.
At their meeting, the Bulgarian Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov and the Greek Minister of Citizens' Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis expressed their satisfaction with the intensive contacts on operational and expert level - parallel investigations, talks on concrete cases and joint efforts in the fight against illegal migration and smuggling.
Tsvetanov and Chrysochoidis also discussed the possibility of more active co-operation in the field of protection of cultural heritage, strengthening of cross-border police co-operation through modern Schengen instruments, ways of boosting the effectiveness of the operational co-operation through joint operations, real-time information exchange, as well as the use of the joint contact centre in Promachonas.
Tsvetanov and Chrysochoidis signed a joint declaration for cooperation, which is another proof of the political will Bulgaria and Greece show in the fight against organized crime.
The Bulgaria's Minister of Transport, IT, and Communications Alexander Tsvetkov, and Greece's Minister of Infrastructure, Transport, and Networks Dimitrios Reppas signed a joint declaration for cooperation aiming at facilitating and increasing the railway traffic.
The joint declaration outlines the priorities on which Bulgaria and Greece will be focusing with respect to their railroad transport cooperation.
These include creating a railroad corridor for freight transport from Greece to Russia through Bulgaria; speeding up the realization of "Project 22" - the railway route from Athens to Budapest through Thessaloniki, Sofia, Vidin, and Timisiora; reducing the bureaucracy and waiting time at the Bulgarian-Greece border for trains; boosting the interoperability of each country's railway system; introducing "smart" transport systems and communications.
The two transport ministries are relying on EU funding, public-private partnerships, and aid from other international organizations in order to be able to lure foreign investments into the railway transport sector.
A Joint Declaration for exchanging information and knowhow relating to water resources, signed by Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili with Bulgarian Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova.
The joint declaration reaffirms the two countries' desire to take action to protect river water resources by taking the necessary coordinated action for rationalised management and protection of their joint water heritage.
The two countries share several rivers that run through northern Greece such as the Evros, Ardas, Strymonas and Nestos.
A bilateral agreement on culture and education was the second signed in the presence of the two premiers after the Council meeting, by Greek Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Bulgarian Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov.
The agreement calls for the foundation of a Bulgarian Cultural Foundation in Athens, equivalent to its Greek counterpart in Sofia, the joint organisation of an archaeological exhibition on relations between Greece and Bulgaria from early antiquity until the Roman era, Greek participation in the study, preservation and promotion of various Bulgarian archaeological finds and the translation of Greek and Bulgarian academic publications on historic monuments in the two countries.
The agreement also outlines various joint activities and events relating to more modern culture, such as evenings dedicated to Greek and Bulgarian writers with an influence in both countries, poetry evenings, culture exchanges between the two countries' national theatres, state orchestras and others.
Greek Tourism and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos also signed an agreement with Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traycho Traykov that seeks to promote cooperation between the two countries in various tourism-related activities, including the organisation of joint tourism packages of Chinese, Japanese and U.S. tourists, exchange of knowhow, promotion of various kinds of specialist tourist products, exchange of information, especially concerning investments, and joint organisations of events such as famtrips, conferences, festivals, exhibitions and cultural weeks.