Saturday, 19 May 2012, 07:40 GMT
Bulgaria, Qatar, Turkey eye joint infrastructure projects


Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (R) shakes hands with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani before their meeting in Sofia./ AFP

AFP

"We discussed possible partnerships between the three countries

Leaders of Bulgaria, Qatar and Turkey agreed Friday to study joint infrastructure projects like the construction of a new motorway from Istanbul across Bulgaria.

"We discussed possible partnerships between the three countries to develop infrastructure projects together," the Prime Minister of cash-rich Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, said.

On the second day of a visit to Bulgaria, al-Thani met near Varna with his Turkish and Bulgarian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Boyko Borisov.

The three leaders agreed to send ministers next Thursday to Sofia to study the possibility of building a 300-kilometre (186-mile) road link bewteen Istanbul, in Turkey's northwest, and Bulgaria's northern Danube bridge to Romania near Ruse, Borisov said.

"Depending on their conclusions, there is readiness by Qatar and Turkey to set up a joint project company to start building this motorway via a public private partnership," he added.

Estimates by the Bulgarian construction ministry put the price of a new motorway at 1.5 billion leva (767 million euros, $995 million).

But Bulgaria and Turkey failed Friday to make progress on a project to build a 200-kilometre (125-mile) link between their respective gas networks.

Bulgaria is keen to build the pipeline to wean itself off almost total dependence on Russian gas deliveries via Ukraine by receiving gas from the Middle East and Caspian regions.

"But it is far from reality," Borisov commented on Friday.

"What we can do now is to work on the South Stream gas project, where Russia is a strategic partner," Borisov said.

And Erdogan apparently failed get approval from Borisov for a dam on the Tundzha river in southeastern Bulgaria that would reduce flooding in Turkish regions across the border.

European Union newcomer Bulgaria has seen exports to the crisis-hit bloc decline and has begun to seek investment from Qatar and Turkey to boost a stagnating economy.