There is a possibility to transfer Iranian gas to Bulgaria via Turkey and Azerbaijan, says Iranian ambassador in Sofia
Kremena Krasteva, Epicenter, 20 September 2022
This article was taken from the Epicenter website with permission of the editors. Journalist Kremena Krasteva spoke to Iranian Ambassador H. Pr. Seyed Mohammad Javad Rasouli about relations between Iran and Bulgaria.
“Currently, there is a possibility of transferring Iranian gas to Bulgaria through Turkey and Azerbaijan. We have a gas pipeline with Turkey and we export gas to Turkey. Another option for transporting Iranian gas to Bulgaria through Azerbaijan is the southern gas corridor between Greece and Bulgaria, which is possible because part of its capacity is empty.
We have a saying that a good friend is known on a bad day! That’s why we are ready to provide part of Bulgaria’s gas needs in these difficult conditions,” the Iranian ambassador told Epicenter.bg.
Here are the highlights of the interview:
- The economies of the two countries complement each other and in many areas there is an opportunity to meet mutual needs.
- The 20th session of the Joint Economic Cooperation Commission between the two countries will soon take place in Tehran, which is actually a roadmap for the development of cooperation between the two countries.
- In general, cultural cooperation between the two countries is at a good level.
Here is the interview itself:
Your Excellency, how do you assess the relations between Bulgaria and Iran?
Relations between Iran and Bulgaria are historical and long-standing, dating back centuries. Iran was the first Asian country to recognise Bulgaria’s independence and Bulgaria was the first Eastern European country to officially recognise the Islamic Republic of Iran. The history of official and diplomatic relations between the two countries alone dates back 125 years, which is unique.
This year will mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Bulgaria in the capitals of the two countries. Despite some ups and downs in relations, the two countries have always had friendly bilateral relations based on respect throughout this 125-year period and there has never been much tension between Iran and Bulgaria.
Today, relations between the two countries are strengthening in all sectors and fields, including political, economic and cultural, and good interactions have been established between the authorities of the two countries.
Do you see progress in economic relations between Bulgaria and Iran?
Despite some obstacles, economic relations between Iran and Bulgaria are developing at an increasing pace.
In 2021, the official value of trade between the two countries increased by about 100%. Despite this increase, we believe that there are many potential opportunities to develop cooperation and relations in the economic and trade field between the two countries. The economies of the two countries are complementary and in many areas there is scope to meet each other’s needs. On the basis of an economic agenda, the Embassy seeks to exploit all opportunities for cooperation with the public and private sector in Bulgaria to develop economic relations between the two countries for the benefit of the peoples of both countries. Good plans have been made in this area.
The 20th session of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation between the two countries will soon take place in Tehran, which is, in fact, a roadmap for the development of cooperation between the two countries. The holding of the 20th session of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation between the two countries is a good proof of the importance of bilateral relations for the two countries.
Is it possible to transfer Iranian gas to Bulgaria? How can we get gas from Iran?
Iran ranks second in the world in terms of proven natural gas reserves after Russia, so more than a fifth of the world’s proven natural gas reserves belong to Iran. This question also applies to oil reserves, so Iran ranks fourth in the world in this respect, and if oil and gas reserves are combined, Iran ranks first in the world. With these rich reserves, we are ready to cover part of the needs of Europe and Bulgaria.
Currently, there is a possibility that Iranian gas could be transported to Bulgaria via Turkey and Azerbaijan. We have a pipeline with Turkey and we export gas to Turkey. Another option for transporting Iranian gas to Bulgaria via Azerbaijan is the southern gas corridor between Greece and Bulgaria, which is possible because part of its capacity is empty.
We have a saying that a good friend is known on a bad day! That’s why we are ready to secure part of Bulgaria’s gas needs in these difficult conditions.
How do you rate the cultural cooperation between the two countries?
The existence of significant cultural and historical points of contact is one of the most important and strongest aspects of relations between the two countries, which plays an important role in providing the basis for the development of relations in other areas.
Iran and Bulgaria share many historical and cultural features.
There are about a thousand words with a common root in the Persian and Bulgarian languages. Initially, it was thought that Persian words entered Bulgaria via the Turkish language during the Ottoman Empire, but based on new findings, linguists believe that most Persian words in Bulgarian, both geographically and historically, came from a more distant place, reaching the country without passing through Turkish or Arabic. Cheshme (Cheshme), Djourab (Djourab), zima (Zemestan – winter), lăja (dorug – lie), Gerdan (Gerdan Band – necklace) etc. are some of the thousands of words with Persian roots that are used in Bulgarian today. The number of common Persian words in Bulgarian is so impressive that a dictionary was written for the occasion and published twice in Bulgaria. There is even a hypothesis among some Bulgarian scholars that the two peoples share the same racial origin.
How old are the cultural links between the two countries?
Official cultural links and cooperation between the two countries date back to 1955, when a Persian language department was established at Sofia University. Today, this department has been developed and a separate department has been established within the Centre for Oriental Languages and Cultures of Sofia University, where Iranian studies are taught as a speciality. The specialty “Iranian Studies” was established as an independent academic unit in the academic year 1993-1994 within the Centre for Oriental Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Classical and New Philology of Sofia University. It is part of the Department of Foreign Languages of Sofia University. Since then, students have been trained in this field every year.
It is interesting to note that currently a significant number of Iranian graduates work in Bulgarian state institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Science, cultural, tourism and trade departments. It is interesting to know that the current Bulgarian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Tehran and 2 other diplomats from the Bulgarian Embassy in Iran are Iranian graduates.
In general, cultural cooperation between the two countries is at a good level. Many cultural and artistic events and projects are organized every year by each of the two countries in the opposite country, as well as active participation in cultural and artistic events.
Cultural, linguistic and racial peculiarities, folk traditions and customs and the good attitude of Bulgarians towards Iranians made me never feel in a foreign country, but at home.
Photo: His Excellency Seyyed Mohammad Javad Rassouli is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Bulgaria (source: http://www.mu-sofia.bg, Bulgarian National Radio)
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