Bulgaria is ready to work with Serbia to deepen good-neighbourliness in the Western Balkans and in the implementation of reforms key to European perspectives, President Rumen Radev said in Sofia on February 23, at a joint news conference with his Serbian counterpart and guest Aleksandar Vučić.
Radev welcomed the indicative timeframe proposed by the European Commission for the enlargement of the European Union by 2025, describing this as a clear prospect for the shared European future of Bulgaria and Serbia, the Bulgarian President’s office said.
Radev expressed hope that bilateral relations between Sofia and Belgrade in the fields of infrastructure and energy connectivity will be deepened in the short term.
He named the specific projects that are a priority for both countries as including the highway between Niš and Sofia, the construction of a gas interconnector between the two countries, the optimization and electrification of rail transport and the increase in the number and efficiency of border crossing points at the common border.
Radev thanked his Serbian counterpart for the changes made to Serbia’s legislation regarding national minorities, but called for more efforts to implement the legislative measures with regard to the Bulgarian population.
“More efforts are needed in this activity and in the progress of the Serbian legislation to reach local level and to have results on the ground.”
Radev said that he and Vučić had discussed the problems in these regions, including the lack of sufficient investments, low employment, insufficient access to mother tongue education, health and social services.
The presidents of Bulgaria and Serbia also committed themselves to taking short-term measures for the possibility for Bulgarians on Serbian territory to have more access to information in Bulgarian, by addressing the problem of shortage of media funding in the mother tongue in the districts of Dimitrovgrad and Bosilegrad.
Radev invited Vučić to take part in the Single European Sky initiative by joining the DANUBE FAB Functional Airspace Block (FAB) between the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania.
“The air space of Serbia is of strategic interest to the region and together with Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia we can be part of the Single European Sky for the sake of the efficiency and safety of air transport. We need to have a comprehensive approach when we talk about expanding our cooperation,” Radev said.
He said that he had called for a peaceful and mutually beneficial decision-making solution in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.
“Bulgaria highly appreciates the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. There is no alternative to this dialogue. We need to seek a peaceful solution to all the problems,” Radev said.
Vučić thanked Bulgaria for its support for Serbia on its European path.
“The peoples of Bulgaria and Serbia are friendly and fraternal peoples and I am convinced that we will have very good close cooperation in the future,” he said.
Vučić noted the wide possibilities for co-operation between state and private companies on both sides in many areas, including the military industry.
The Serbian president gave an assurance that measures will be taken shortly not only at the political but also at the local level to improve the living conditions of the Bulgarians in Serbia. “We are fully open to discuss everything that will enable the Bulgarian national minority to feel and live better,” he said.
Radev has accepted Vučić’s invitation to visit Serbia together with representatives of Bulgarian business to discuss specific projects to promote bilateral economic exchange. The two presidents will also visit the regions where the Bulgarian national minority lives in the Republic of Serbia…/ΙΒΝΑ