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President Radev Talks by Phone with US Secretary of State Blinken

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev talked by telephone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the head of State’s Press Secretariat said on Friday evening.
They focused on the strategic partnership between their countries and the security challenges arising from Russia’s war against Ukraine. The two discussed the need to support Ukraine in the predicament of its energy and civilian infrastructure being deliberately destroyed, causing suffering to millions of innocent people. 
Another highlight was energy diversification and taking timely measures to ensure alternative supplies of crude oil for the Burgas refinery after the lapse of the derogation for import of Russian oil. Radev stressed the possibility of building an oil pipeline from Alexandroupolis to Burgas so as to prevent the closure of the refinery, which is key to the Bulgarian economy and would result in a loss of jobs and a fuel scarcity and price hike.
Ensuring reliable economic, transport and energy connectivity in Southeastern Europe in conditions of a nextdoor military conflict is essential for setting up dependable supply chains in the regions and managing the adverse effects of the crisis, the head of State emphasized. Radev said that Bulgaria expects to join the Schengen area in 2023, for which it has already received support from the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council. 
Bulgaria-US security and defence partnership was discussed as well. President Radev again called for a solution in which Bulgaria could lease fighter aircraft until the Bulgarian F-16 squadron has been formed. “Bulgaria counts on its allies’ support, but it is also keen on keeping and enhancing its national capabilities to protect its own airspace,” the President told the Secretary of State.