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Bulgaria: Greece Exchanges Pacts On Water, New Border Crossings

Sofia, 19 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- In what appears to be the end of a decades-old dispute between Bulgaria and Greece, the two Balkan countries today exchanged accords on the joint use of water reserves.

Meeting in the southern Bulgarian town of Smolyan, Bulgarian and Greek Foreign Ministers Georgi Pirinski and Theodoros Pangalos exchanged the pacts that earlier had been ratified by their parliaments.

The accords concern shared use of water from the Mesta River, which runs through both countries. The pacts also would allow the opening of three new border checkpoints that are scheduled to start operations by the end of 1998. Those crossings are considered crucial for economic development in Bulgaria, whose only current crossing into Greece is in the southwestern part of the country.

The new crossings would allow Bulgarian highways to tap into a proposed Trans-Balkan highway that would connect Istanbul with Greece's Adriatic port city of Igoumenitsa.