Bulgaria among 13 EU countries calling for faster European integration of the Western Balkans

Bulgaria among 13 EU countries calling for faster European integration of the Western Balkans

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva, together with the ministers of 12 other EU member states, have urged the speeding up of the European integration of the Western Balkans, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on June 11.

The 13 ministers (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia) called for the opening of accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania in June 2019.

The joint statement highlights the importance of the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans as a key instrument for achieving sustainable stability, peace and prosperity, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said.

“All Members of the Council are urged to take far-sighted, bold decisions this month, which would promote continuous reform progress, in line with EU standards and values.

“Countries in the region need to work for close regional co-operation and make efforts for genuine good-neighbourly relations.”

Bulgaria believes that the start of the negotiations process with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia will maintain and consolidate the positive reform momentum in their societies.

The EU member states will have the opportunity to assess their individual progress and render their support at each and every stage, the statement said.

EU enlargement to the Western Balkan countries remains among the foreign policy priorities of Bulgaria, the Foreign Ministry said.

Good neighbourly relations, regional co-operation and the rule of law are horizontal criteria for the progress of candidate countries.

The implementation of the letter and spirit of the Treaty on friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation by the Republic of North Macedonia will be key to making the relevant decisions.

“This is the way towards ensuring regional stability and solving all open issues in order to create a secure environment for regional and European security,” the statement said./ibna