Under the newly adopted by the cabinet Concept on opening new border checkpoints with neighbour countries, 15 new border checkpoints will be established by 2015. The government’s long-term national priority includes the modernization of existing border checkpoints. The detailed timetable for the establishment of 15 new checkpoints will be prepared in line with the country’s priorities and the condition of the state budget. This was announced at a joint press conference of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport and Communications Nikolay Vassilev, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and National Coordination of the Stability Pact for Bulgaria Milen Keremedchiev.
Under the Concept, 15 new border checkpoints between Bulgaria and its neighbours will be opened, as follows:
-with Greece: Ivailovgrad-Kiprinos, Avren-Mitiski and Zlatograd-Ksanti;
-with Romania – Kanairdga-Karvan, Dolno Ryahovo-Oltenitsa, Kozlodui-Dgigera, Baikal-Korabia, Riahovo-Gostinu, Novo selo – Gurla Mare and Archar-Desa;
-with Turkey – Belevren-Ahlatlu, Tsarevo-Ineada and Strandga-Kovchaz;
-with Serbia and Montenegro – Salash-Novo Korito and Trun- Zvontsi.
The country has currently 21 border checkpoints, and for the last 15 years there have been no new checkpoints. The construction of checkpoints will enable the cooperation between Bulgarian border municipalities (that are 75 out of a total of 131) and the neighbouring border territories and this will give an impetus to the development of economic and cultural cross-border cooperation.
Transport Minister Nikolay Vassilev said that he had informed the cabinet of the results from the work of the Interministerial Council on Border Control, chaired by him. Nikolay Vassilev pointed out that at the end of 2004, the Council of Ministers allocated for the first time BGN 18 million for the modernization of the existing border checkpoints and the funds had been almost totally absorbed. Nikolay Vassilev described the work that has been done as considerable.
According to Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, the establishment of a modern regional infrastructure that meets EU standards has to do with Bulgaria’s foreign policy strategic priority – the EU membership. It is expected to have positive socio-economic effects, such as the increase in trade and investments and strengthening cross-border cooperation. Afterwards starts the active work on the improvement of national infrastructure in that direction, he added.
The priority activities concerning the development of the network of border checkpoints near the borders of the country are: -Development of border checkpoints on the basic European transport highways. Modernization and increase of the capacity of the major border checkpoints.
-Opening border checkpoints under the international agreements.
Under the government’s decision, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is delegated to conduct the negotiations and sign the respective bilateral agreements with the neighbour countries.