"The "16+1" format does not divide Europe. It is not a geopolitical alliance and does not cause confrontation in Europe," said Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at a joint press conference with the Chairman of the State Council of China Li Keqiang at the Council of Ministers. Li Keqiang is in Sofia for the Seventh Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe and China, which is hosted by Bulgaria this year.


The Bulgarian Prime Minister noted that the purpose of meetings in this format is to increase the gross domestic product and the incomes of citizens. "I want this message to be sent out very clearly from Sofia to all my colleagues in Europe. Our aim is not to cause division within the Union, but on the contrary - to have the lagging behind Balkans reach as far as possible the income levels we all want. This is the purpose of these multilateral and bilateral meetings," said Boyko Borissov.


The Chairman of the State Council of China said the "16+1" initiative does not aim to divide the European Union but to act in support of European integration. "China wants a prosperous Europe and a strong euro. "16+1" is not a political initiative. It is not true that we will divide the EU because we understand that the European Union is important for global prosperity," Li Keqiang stated.


The Chairman of the State Council of China Li Keqiang said his country is ready to invest in the region in compliance with the law, free trade rules and European Union regulations. "China does not want a trade war with anyone, but if needed, it will protect the rules of free trade," Li Keqiang said, and added that his country is ready for cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy and agriculture. According to him, China will open its markets to facilitate foreign investors and to provide more opportunities for Bulgaria.


Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov announced that his Chinese colleague made a personal committment for the successful completion of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant project. "With the contacts that China has with EU Member States, we can actually achieve a good result with the Belene project, which he personally pledged to help bring to success," explained Borissov. The Prime Minister also noted the progress in infrastructure projects. "The current Chinese government has a strategy for 50 years ahead. I was puzzled when I realized that even the first highway in China collects fees. They do not have a toll-free highway. I mention this for those who love to discuss this topic. That is why we rely heavily on the toll system that allows for market-based return on investments on the basis of traffic. We have the opportunity for our ministers to meet and to have the interests of Bulgaria, the Balkans, and the Chinese investors protected," Prime Minister Borissov added.


Prior to the press conference of the two heads of government at the Council of Ministers, ten bilateral documents were signed that will promote economic and trade cooperation between Bulgaria and China.