Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has met with a delegation of Chinese companies and repeated his support for the “One Belt, One Time” (new Silk Road) initiative and the 17 + 1 platform for cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

“We recognise that the most important factor in the development of these initiatives is the transport connectivity between China and Europe. That is why I am pleased to welcome companies today, world leaders in the construction of transport infrastructure,” Radev said.

Noting his country’s strategic geographical location which should produce a short and profitable transport route between the two countries.

The delegation included representatives of China Railway International Group, a world leader in rail and transport infrastructure, and Touchstone Financial Holding Group, a leading financial group structuring the implementation of international strategic projects, both involved in new Silk Road projects.

The delegation briefed Radev on their plans to create a platform for investment and strategic projects in the areas of infrastructure, energy, agriculture, technology in the 17 + 1 countries. China Railway International Group President Chen Shipping said the company is exploring the Bulgarian business environment and specific projects, including the Port of Varna.

In April this year, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang launched a partnership centre to support cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC).

The Global Partnership Center of CEECs and China is a result of last year’s China-CEEC leaders’ meeting in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. It is also an initiative of innovation within the China-CEEC cooperation framework.

The center is a non-governmental and non-profit think tank and advisory body, which is designed to provide policy and legal consultation, as well as intellectual support to bolster trade and investment cooperation between enterprises of the two sides, and further, deepen the China-CEEC cooperation.

At the seventh China-CEEC leaders’ meeting in July last year, China and Bulgaria jointly put forward the initiative to set up the centre in an effort to offer consultation and advice to government bodies and businesses involved in China-CEEC cooperation, and to promote the China-CEEC mechanism’s principles of openness, equality, fairness, and transparency.

“I am convinced that with our joint efforts we can develop this infrastructure necessary for the initiative in Bulgaria in the fastest and best possible way,” Radev said.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Beijing, and they decided to lift state-to-state ties to a strategic partnership.

Bulgaria was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with New China, Xi noted, hoping that the two countries take the strategic partnership as a new starting point, work together to cope with the test of international changes and inject new impetus into bilateral cooperation.