Monday, 11 December 2017 | News today: 0

Eastern European FMs support Bulgaria’s efforts for W. Balkans’ EU integration

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Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva has received the full support of her counterparts from the Visegrad Four and the Western Balkans on the region’s faster EU integration during the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council in 2018.

The top diplomats of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) and their counterparts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia gathered in the Hungarian capital to discuss possibilities for speeding up the enlargement of the EU with the Western Balkan countries, whose Euro-Atlantic integration is a major foreign policy priority of the Bulgarian government and of the upcoming Bulgarian EU Presidency, Bulgaria’s news agency BTA reported.

Addressing the forum, Zaharieva expressed the firm belief that the European project will not be complete and Europe will not be stable and secure enough as a continent without the Western Balkans in the EU. “Our goal is to have a clear plan for each of the Balkan countries at the EU summit in Sofia next year,” she added. Zaharieva underscored how important it is to build infrastructure and connectivity in all aspects, and presented the idea put forward by European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel in Brussels that the mobile roaming charges between the Western Balkans and the EU be lifted.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who hosted the forum, insisted that the start date of the negotiations with Macedonia and Albania be no later than in the first quarter of 2018.

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu underscored that the Treaty on Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Macedonia serves as an example for the whole region.

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jakub Durr expressed the hope that the Bulgarian EU Presidency will play a leading role in the process of the Western Balkans’ EU integration.

The annual meeting in Budapest takes place as part of Hungary’s presidency with the Visegrad Group. The foreign ministers of Estonia, Romania and Slovenia are also in attendance. The central topic of the meeting is the EU integration aspirations of Western Balkan countries.