The Outer

Bulgarian Ambassador to Cairo: Rafah Crossing is the only lifeline for the Palestinian people in Gaza

By Manal Abdel Fattah

The Bulgarian ambassador to Cairo, Dejan Katrachev, praised the tireless efforts of Egyptian diplomacy to calm the crisis in the Gaza Strip, secure the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need, alleviate their suffering, and continue the dialogue in order to release all hostages and prevent the spread of the conflict by engaging with all concerned parties, stressing that the Rafah border crossing remains open. It provided the only lifeline for the Palestinian people in Gaza.

On the occasion of Bulgaria’s National Day, which falls today, Sunday, the Ambassador appreciated Egypt’s distinguished approach to dealing with crises, which is always an example of responsibility, moderation, and wisdom, expressing his hope that the mediation efforts made by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States will succeed to ensure the protection of all civilians, which constitutes a very important priority.

He expressed his country’s concern about the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, calling for support to be provided to innocent civilians, stressing the importance of delivering life-saving humanitarian aid urgently and sustainably without obstacles by adopting the necessary measures.

He said that Bulgaria and 25 European Union countries issued a joint statement last February 19 after the meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council demanding an immediate humanitarian truce that would lead to a permanent ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian aid… expressing gratitude. Bulgaria in particular for the assistance provided by the Egyptian authorities in evacuating Bulgarian citizens and their family members from the Gaza Strip, as they were among the first group of citizens who were allowed to leave the Strip through the Rafah crossing.

Regarding bilateral cooperation, Katrachev stressed the importance of the visit made by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel to Egypt last February 10, as it was the first visit of its kind at this level in 12 years, as it gave new impetus to the high-level political dialogue and the resumption of communications at the ministerial level. Foreign Ministry, noting that the visit witnessed the holding of the opening session of the Egyptian-Bulgarian Joint Cooperation Committee, which is the bilateral cooperation mechanism that was established in 2018.

He explained that this visit is important because it sets a clear framework for comprehensive development of cooperation in areas of strategic importance in the future, in addition to the signing of three memorandums of understanding in the fields of natural gas and defense, and mutual exemption from visa requirements for short-term stay for holders of diplomatic passports, which creates a strong basis for continued development. Bilateral cooperation.

He added that the joint statement issued on the occasion of Gabriel’s visit reaffirms the political commitment of Egypt and Bulgaria to strengthen political dialogue and relations between the two countries, as well as their readiness to raise relations to a higher level, which also reflects the strategic nature of relations between Egypt and the European Union. Pointing out that the opening session of the Cooperation Committee The joint meeting forms the basis for preparing for President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to Bulgaria in light of the invitation sent to him by his Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev.

Katrachev stressed the importance of Egypt’s important and main role in energy security and for it to become a regional center in this field at a time when the global energy market is witnessing serious challenges. This is why Bulgaria considers Egypt a major partner in the energy field and a potential supplier of liquefied natural gas and electricity from renewable energy sources to Europe, while Bulgaria, as an important producer of high-quality wheat, has the potential to help Egypt diversify its food and grain imports.

He also stressed that Egypt has proven its position as a leading and prominent trading partner for Bulgaria in the Middle East and North Africa region, as the value of bilateral trade exceeded $1.028 billion within 11 months of 2023, explaining that Egyptian exports to Bulgaria amounted to about $345.6 million, while Egyptian imports from Bulgaria amounted to $345.6 million. 9.682 million euros in 2023.

He stated that there is huge untapped potential in intra-trade, which requires work on diversification and expansion in this field, as the bulk of trade exchange is based on petroleum oils, indicating that both countries offer attractive investment incentives and we need to make efforts to harness the huge untapped potential. Encouraging the inflow of foreign funds, especially in light of the current economic conditions.

He said that there is great potential for cooperation in the field of innovation and information technology, as the largest center for artificial intelligence in southeastern Europe, “the Institute of Technological Sciences, Artificial Intelligence and Technology,” is located in Bulgaria, stressing Bulgaria’s interest in cooperating with Egypt in the field of combating illegal immigration, security, and law enforcement. And combating extremism, terrorism and extremism.

He pointed to the excellent cooperation between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Egyptian Academy for Scientific Research and Technology, a cooperation that can be developed further while the Bulgarian archaeological mission has been working in Egypt for more than 12 years and continues to achieve wonderful results.

He stated that the field of tourism is one of the promising areas for bilateral cooperation, as Bulgaria and Egypt are two very attractive tourist destinations that enjoy a rich cultural and historical heritage, and health tourism and health resorts in particular could be an important area of ​​cooperation in the future. He called for work to operate direct airlines between them. Sofia and Cairo, which will contribute significantly to enhancing trade and economic cooperation.

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