Russia’s direct capital investments in Bulgaria for the past ten years exceeded USD 2 B, according to Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Yuri Isakov.

In an interview for Moscow-based daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, he noted that a number of Russian companies were interested in developing investment cooperation with Bulgaria in the spheres of transport, banking and insurance, logistics, etc.

Isakov cited energy as one of the priority spheres of bilateral cooperation.

He referred to the South Stream gas pipeline project as an engine of the Bulgarian economy, adding that it would benefit all European countries interested in ensuring long-term supply stability.

The Russian diplomat explained that the South Stream gas pipeline project would result in the upgrade and expansion of the gas transmission infrastructure in Central and Southern Russia.

He claimed that Bulgaria would secure estimated revenues of EUR 2.5 B by 2040 through the gas pipeline project, adding that both international and local experts agreed that it would assist the implementation of the revenue side of the state budget.

Isakov also drew attention to the fact that the implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline project would create over 600 jobs in Bulgaria, provide Bulgarian construction companies with unique experience and  give a strong boost to the development of the depression-stricken Northwestern Region, on whose territory a substantial section of the pipe was located.

He also said that the project would fetch additional investments in transport infrastructure and increase the workload of Bulgaria’s largest Black Sea port, Port Varna, and the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) company.

He described South Stream as “an engine for the Bulgarian economy and its sustainable development.”

Isakov was not asked to comment on the calls of the European Commission to renegotiate all bilateral intergovernmental agreements on the South Stream gas pipeline project in order to make them compatible with EU law.

The Russian diplomat suggested that Bulgaria had great opportunities to develop alternative forms of tourism such as pilgrimage tourism, balneological tourism, wine tourism and eco-tourism.

He also informed that the 135th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Russia would be celebrated in 2014, as well as the 135th anniversary of the first Bulgarian Constitution, reminding that it had been drafted “with the active participation of prominent Russian legal experts.”

Isakov went on to mention other upcoming anniversaries, such as the 100th anniversary of the Russian Church in Sofia, officially known as the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, and the and the 90th anniversary of the sanctification  of the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral.