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Chancellor Scholz Discusses Bilateral Relations, EU-level Topics with President Radev

German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on Saturday in Sofia as part of a Balkan tour that has already taken him to Kosovo, Serbia, Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia. Earlier in the day, Scholz met Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. 
Radev insisted that the European Union be a guarantor of the observance of the rights of Macedonian Bulgarians in North Macedonia. Clear mechanisms and measurable criteria are needed to monitor the negotiation process, leading to sustainability in the fulfillment of the membership criteria by Northern Macedonia. He also stressed the importance of preserving the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage in the West Balkan country, Radev’s press service said.
The two officials also discussed topics from the EU agenda, among which energy diversification, strengthening Europe’s security in the context of the war in Ukraine and the European perspective for the Western Balkans.  A focus in the discussion were also the future perspectives for bilateral relations in all spheres of economy, security and defence. The officials noted the achieved results in trade and economic relations.  Radev welcomed the contribution of German companies in the development of machine building, the automotive industry and a number of other areas of the Bulgarian economy. He expressed confidence that German investments in Bulgaria will continue to increase in the high-tech and innovation field, as well as in projects related to the green economy transition. In terms of bilateral trade, Bulgaria is in the top 20 of Germany’s most important trading partners within the EU in 2021, the press release said. 
Radev briefed Scholz on the EUR 15 billion project for green hydrogen production in the Maritsa East Complex (Southeastern Bulgaria). The plans are to transform the coal-fired power plants in the complex into solar power capacities for the production of green hydrogen for balancing energy of the domestic grid and for export. The effort will take some ten years, creating 7,500 jobs on site and another 18,000 in the support industries. Radev stressed the opportunities for German-Bulgarian cooperation in this type of projects, considering the German extensive experience in developing technologies in the field of green hydrogen.  
On the topic of Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, the two officials agreed that it should be realized on the basis of objective and transparent criteria. Radev recalled that despite the fulfilled requirements back in 2011, the country is still not a member. Scholz said that Bulgaria can count on Germany’s support on the matter.