Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday stressed the strategic significance placed by Greece on the energy sector, speaking in Sofia after a meeting with Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov.

Papoulias on Wednesday began a two-day state visit to Bulgaria that includes talks with the political and state leadership, while he and Parvanov will jointly inaugurate a Greece Bulgaria Business Forum on Thursday.

Speaking to the press after his meeting with Parvanov, Papoulias described this year's 130th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as an "important landmark", and praised the level of bilateral relations at all levels, while also expressing satisfaction over the standard of the cooperation "particularly in today's adverse international environment".

In that context, he noted the recent opening of the new Kyprinos-Ivaylovgrad border crossing on their joint frontier-- which was officially inaugurated by Papoulias and Parvanov in Evros in September -- and the inaugural meeting of the Greece-Bulgaria High Level Cooperation Council in June, as well as the continuing materialisation of the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB).

The two Presidents also exchanged vies on the Western Balkans' accession to the EU, and ways in which Greece and Bulgaria could contribute to the speedy achievement of this, under the general and specific conditions set out by the EU.

Papoulias further briefed his Bulgarian counterpart on the Cyprus issue which, he stressed, "remains a problem of invasion and occupation", and on EU-Turkey relations.

Parvanov, in turn, described their meeting as "very friendly and cordial" and indicative of the intensive dialogue and exceptional friendship between Greece and Bulgaria, "the relations of which embody the meaning of the concept of relations between two European partners".

After also noting the recent inauguration of the Kyprinos-Ivaylovgrad border crossing, Parvanov noted the increasing flow of tourists over the common borders of the two countries and expressed hope that this trend will be consolidated with the opening of more border crossings.

The Bulgarian president also expressed satisfaction over the growth of bilateral economic relations "despite the economic crisis", and noted that Greece is among the top foreign investors in Bulgaria.

He further expressed hope that the Business Forum the two Presidents will jointly inaugurate on Thursday will be a new step in the direction of further boosting bilateral economic ties.

Parvanov said he was also satisfied with the recent positive developments in the South Stream energy plan (natural gas pipeline), expressing his conviction that the developments will be auspicious for the interests of both Bulgaria and Greece.

Foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and agricultural develop-ment minister Costas Skandalidis, who are accompanying Papoulias on his visit to Sofia, are scheduled to have meetings with their Bulgarian counterparts.

President Papoulias meets Bulgarian PM Borisov

Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who began a two-day official visit to Bulgaria on Wednesday morning, met in the afternoon with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

No statements were made after the meeting, in which President Papoulias was accompanied, among others, by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Costas Skandalidis and the Greek ambassador in Sofia Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou.

The first day of President Papoulias's visit to the Bulgarian capital also includes a meeting with the mayor of Sofia Iordanka Fadakova and a dinner that will be hosted in the Greek President's homnour by his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov.