Iran Sees Bulgaria as Gateway to European Union: Larijani

In a meeting in Tehran, Speaker of Iran’s Parliament Ali Larijani and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov explored the avenues for promoting mutual cooperation between Tehran and Sofia.

Here is IFP’s translation of a report by ICANA on the meeting:

During the meeting held on Tuesday, July 12, Larijani noted that the good relations between Bulgaria and Iran in the past are an advantage after the end of anti-Iran sanctions.

“We look at Bulgaria as a gateway to the European Union in order to develop our economic relations with European countries,” Larijani said, adding that Iran-Bulgaria trade ties can be a good model for Tehran-EU ties.

He further reaffirmed Iran’s desire to advance cooperation with Bulgaria in the fields of economy, tourism, energy and culture.

“The visit of Bulgarian delegation to Iran can be a turning point in the two countries’ bilateral relations, and today is a good time for expansion of ties,” he noted.

“Iran can provide sustainable security for Europe’s energy demands, but this needs certain prerequisites and conditions, which should be considered by Europe,” Larijani stressed.

“Under the current circumstances, we have yet to receive good feedbacks from the other side in the implementation of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers,” he regretted.

He also referred to the issue of terrorism and highlighted the critical situation of the Middle East, saying that the entire region, and even Europe, is now suffering from the issue.

“Fight against terrorism needs international cooperation. Terrorism is not a simple and tactical issue, and cannot be resolved through a number of airstrikes,” he warned.

Borissov, for his part, said that the historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and the enhanced dialogue between the EU and Tehran have paved the ground for restarting relations between Bulgaria and Iran.

The Bulgarian PM said there are positive prospects for the development of ties between the two countries due to the fact that Bulgaria was among Iran’s traditional partners in Eastern Europe during the 1980s.

In some years, the commercial exchange between Tehran and Sofia exceeded $500m whereas now it totals some $150m or $160m annually, he went on to say.

“The levels of the 80s may be restored. The talks which I had on Tuesday with President [Hassan] Rouhani and First Vice-President [Eshaq] Jahangiri were very useful to us and hopefully to Iran as well. Our delegation discussed concrete projects which could provide the foundations to restart our economic cooperation. We believe that as EU member Bulgaria is of interest to Iran as a location on the transit route of Iranian goods to Europe and possibly for new energy projects.”

Prime Minister Borissov noted that parliamentarian cooperation has played an important role in boosting economic ties between the two countries, which in recent years has been actively developing. He extended an invitation to Larijani to visit Bulgaria on behalf of Bulgarian Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, as reported by BTA.

Borissov noted that Bulgaria is an example of tolerance between the different religions. He said that the Bulgarian people are peaceful and that Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully and that Muslims participate in the political and social life in Bulgaria on an equal footing.