SOFIA: The new premises of the UAE Embassy in Sofia was opened by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, during his state visit to Bulgaria on Saturday.

“The opening of the embassy translates the UAE’s keenness to boost prospects of cooperation with Bulgaria across various fields,” said Shaikh Abdullah after inaugurating the new embassy premises in the presence of Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva.

Zaharieva stressed that the opening of the embassy is a step forward on the path to bolstering the steadily growing relations between the two nations.

Abdul Wahab Nasser Hassan Al Najjar, UAE Ambassador to Bulgaria, and several Arab and foreign ambassadors accredited to Bulgaria, attended the opening ceremony.

In a statement on the sidelines of the Sixth News Agencies World Congress in the Bulgarian capital, Zaharieva said the two countries have excellent relations, citing the increase in the exchange of official visits by top diplomats and leaders from the two countries.

“Opening the UAE embassy in Sofia after Bulgaria opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi last year is a significant step toward further strengthening the excellent relations between the two sides,” said Bulgaria’s top diplomat.

“I’m very happy with the current visit by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed and I am sure the distinguished relations between the two sides will lead to more fruitful results at the tourist, trade and investment levels as well enhance interaction between the two peoples,” she added.

The minister expressed hope to see more collaboration between the two sides in terms of technology and artificial intelligence.

Friendly nations

Addressing a press conference alongside Ekaterina Zaharieva, Shaikh Abdullah said actors that seek to destabilise the Middle East and North Africa with their backward, extremist stances, impede the region’s ultimate development goals.

“We depend on friendly nations, like that of Bulgaria, to confront the fascist regimes that seek to destroy the region, through peaceful means, spreading values of tolerance and success. Together, we can prevail over darkness,” Shaikh Abdullah said.

According to the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the two sides touched on the recent developments in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as well as the attacks on Saudi Arabia by Al Houthi militias that targeted the Kingdom’s two pump stations on its East-West pipeline, and the Abha International Airport injuring several civilians.

“We are in a complex region that has many resources, whether gas or oil, that are necessary for the world. We want the flow of said resources to remain safe, and to ensure the stability of the global economy. We must also secure our peoples and our economies,” Shaikh Abdullah affirmed.

“For us, the attacks on four oil tankers in the UAE’s territorial waters are evidence that we, alongside our various partner countries, have identified as underwater explosions, utilising sophisticated technologies.”

“These capabilities,” he added, “are not present in illegal non-state actors or groups. These are disciplined processes carried out by a state. However, until now, there is insufficient evidence to point to a particular country.”

He went on to note that the area in which the incidents took place has vital economic and geopolitical significance and that interruptions like the four attacks can lead to impeding the global supply of oil.

184 vessels

He explained that there were some 184 oil and shipping vessels, among others, in the area where the first attacks took place last month.

“This was a real threat to global maritime shipping,” Shaikh Abdullah warned.

He reiterated, “We must work together to spare the region from escalation, and give the voice of wisdom a chance.

“We have to work together to remove these tensions. We hoped that the efforts of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would succeed. The German foreign minister was present a few days ago in the region, and we remain hopeful in attaining a broader framework for cooperation with Iran.”

“The P5+1 deal,” He added, “had two major flaws. The first being the lack of involvement with regional countries during the dialogue process. The second, not containing Iran’s ballistic missiles capabilities, and its interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries.”

“Real regional security and stability will only be attained when regional actors work together. Our region is the main energy supplier to the world; our safety and security is key to ensuring prosperity and stability for all,” he affirmed.

Commenting on UAE-Bulgaria ties, Shaikh Abdullah said that relations between the two countries are based on trust, and a willingness by both parties to work together to bring about new horizons for cooperation. He added that the two countries must work hard to promote bilateral ties, particularly in the trade and investment and tourism sectors.

Warm reception

Shaikh Abdullah expressed his gratitude for the warm reception, stressing that the latest visit reflects joint efforts to expand ties between the UAE and Bulgaria further. “We also have a joint mission to ensure the success of Bulgaria’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai,” he added.

“We have agreed that there will be an open communication channel between the two sides, whose main objective is to develop the relationship and also to look for joint opportunities in the fields of security, technology, tourism and civil aviation,” Shaikh Abdullah explained.

Shaikh Abdullah held a joint meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, where they discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries and the development of bilateral relations, as well as exchange of views on a number of issues of common concern. They also discussed regional and international events across multiple arenas.

For her part, Ekaterina Zaharieva welcomed the visit of Shaikh Abdullah, stressing the keenness of her country to strengthen relations of cooperation with the UAE in various fields.

The UAE Ambassador to Bulgaria also attended the meeting.