ARTICLES 
Bulgaria increases transit options
The Sofia Echo, 6th March 2006
The state railways companies of Bulgaria and Germany will cooperate to boost traffic from Western Europe to the Middle East, Bulgarian news agency BTA said on February 23. Bulgarian Transport and Communication Minister Petar Mutafchiev negotiated thid during a working visit to Germany on February 22-23. Mutafchiev met Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO and Management Board chairman of Deutsche Bahn AG. The two officials negotiated Deutsche Bahn to act as a consultant to Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) on re-structuring its energy and communications network. An expert group will be set up to find ways to increase traffic in the Balkans, as well as along the Danube. Another two groups of Bulgarian specialists will exchange expertise with German colleagues. These contacts will be useful in making adjustments at BDZs energy and telecommunication divisions by suggesting ways for them to boost their profitability and achieve financial self-support.
German interest in Bulgarian ports along Danube River was the discussed issue during Mutafchievs visit to the port in Duisburg, the largest river port in Germany, later the same day. At the port, Mutafchiev met with Wolfgang Hoenemann, managing director of Lehnkering AG, part of Duisburger Group. After the meeting, Hoenemann said that German Duisburg port operator Duisburger Hafen AG will invest 100 million euro in cargo transport along the Danube river to the Bulgarian port of Vidin in north-western Bulgaria. The funds will be spent on the acquisition of four ships for transportation of cargo to the Vidin port. Duisburger Hafen AG will put 50 million euro more in a cargo-processing terminal at Vidin North port, Hoenemann said. The terminal will handle the materials for construction of the future Danube Bridge.
Danubian ports have always been hubs of steady trade with Germany, Moutafchiev said. Fine conditions have been agreed on at the government level to encourage joint business ventures between Bulgaria and Germany.

Public-private partnership was another subject of the talks. Bulgarian Ambassador to Germany Meglena Plougchieva, who also attended the meeting, said that Germany has abundant experience in this field, which is why training of staff under a special programme should begin as soon as possible.

Germany and Bulgaria were stepping up co-operation in the field of exchange of information. Bulgaria has undertaken the commitment to provide its concrete projects on public-private partnership at an investment forum in Germany, Mutafchiev said.
The Danube River offered a route of inexpensive, direct and environment-friendly transport and Western and Central European partners preferred Bulgaria as a point of transit to the Black Sea and Asia, Mutafchiev said. The problems, which the Bulgarian ports would wish to resolve jointly with German institutions, are related to the usage and maintenance of the river as a transport corridor, and more particularly with the introduction of a river information system for a quicker servicing of passing loads, he said. Bulgarian ports along the Danube are part of trans-European transport corridors 4 and 7. Co-operation on these two corridors was in compliance with the policy of the European Union for development of transport in Europe with a view to activate and upgrade river transport and of easing load flows through the other types of transport.
During his visit in Germany, Mutafchiev also conferred with the Rhine-Westfalia Minister of Transport Oliver Wittke and representatives of Siemens, where further co-operation between the two countries was discussed. On February 24, Mutafchiev and Wittke attended a working breakfast.

On the last day of his working visit Mutafchiev also visited the Siemens plant in Krefeld-Uerdigen where he conferred with Siemens Transportation Systems Managing Board member Joern F. Sens. Mutafchiev negotiated Siemens trains and motor carriages to be assembled and repaired in Bulgarias Black Sea city of Varna.

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