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Daniel Mitov: The solution to the Syrian problem implies removing Bashar al-Assad from power

21 October 2015 / 16:10:57  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova
    Bulgaria and Greece discuss, and cooperate in, finding a solution in Syria and the Middle East and with regard to tackling the refugee wave. This is the conclusion of today’s talks that the top diplomats of the two countries, Daniel Mitov and Nikos Kotzias, held in Athens. Bulgaria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the solution to the conflict in Syria should be sought only through close cooperation of all countries that strived for peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East. According to him, finding the solution could not involve only one country.
    Syria and the refugee wave


    "We are aware that Russia played a role in the situation in Syria, but the problem there cannot be solved without fulfilling certain conditions that affect Bashar al-Assad. He is responsible for the catastrophe that has hit Syria and the entire Middle East. Therefore, the lasting political solution to the conflict there should also imply removing him from power," said Minister Daniel Mitov. It is noted that Bashar al-Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow yesterday. He was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the talks took place in a friendly atmosphere.
    Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias agreed with his Bulgarian counterpart that refugee influxes should be tackled before they reach the borders of the European Union and, therefore, the European Union states should help Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, where there are large concentrations of refugees from Syria.
    Greece and Bulgaria cooperate in the fight against refugee and migrant smuggling. Minister Daniel Mitov announced that every month a senior Bulgarian police officer visited Athens, precisely to counteract traffickers in a more efficient manner. "I can only speak of what is happening on the Bulgarian side of the border. We have recently apprehended an increasing number of traffickers. Bulgaria has increased the fines for this type of crime and made the penalties for them more stringent. As far as I know, the penalties in Greece are quite severe," said Minister Mitov.
    Bulgaria and the Schengen Agreement
    "Greece strongly supports the inclusion of Bulgaria in the Schengen Agreement. This issue, as you know, concerns Romania as well," said Minister Nikos Kotzias. Daniel Mitov pointed out that Bulgaria's accession to Schengen would be gradual. It would start with maritime borders first, air borders would follow and finally land borders would be included in the Schengen area.


    The gas interconnector will be completed in 2017
    Minister Nikos Kotzias made this announcement, specifying that the main works would start in 2016. The top diplomats of Bulgaria and Greece discussed energy cooperation between the two countries as well. Energy sources diversification not only in both countries but in all European Union states is a priority in energy policy, as was clear from the statements of the two Ministers. A key role will be played by the gas interconnector that will allow the supply of natural gas to the countries of the north through Bulgaria and Romania, and to the west through Serbia.
    "The scope of the project has changed. It started modestly but now we want more gas, from more sources at lower prices. This is in the interest of Bulgaria and Greece, but also of all countries in the European Union. The interconnector is necessary and there is no doubt that it will be implemented," said Minister Daniel Mitov. Watch the statement of the Bulgarian top diplomat on the gas connection with Greece:


    Greece’s President will visit Sofia
    The visit of Prokopis Pavlopoulos to Sofia is scheduled for 14-16 December, as announced by Minister Nikos Kotzias. He said in addition that a visit and intergovernmental summit between Bulgaria and Greece would be organized immediately after it. Earlier this morning, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov also met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Tags: Bashar AssadSyriaMiddle EastRussiaVladimir PutinDaniel MitovNikos Kotziasrefugee wavegas interconnector
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