Sofia, February 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Close co-operation will make Bulgaria and Romania’s voice better heard in the region and the European Union, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said after talks in Bucharest with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu.
Bulgaria and Romania are good neighbours, partners and allies in the EU and Nato. The path they have chosen in the last two decades – of freedom, democracy, European and Euro-Atlantic integration – brings the two nations even closer.
That is why we, the politicians on the two banks of the Danube, should communicate and meet more often, Mitov said at a jointnews conference with Aurescu on February 19.
Our two countries are engaged in an open and friendly dialogue as strategic partners, Aurescu said, according to a statement by Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry.
Aurescu said that the series of bilateral contacts at various levels earlier this year serve as an affirmation of this.
The two foreign ministers discussed a number of aspects of bilateral relations, the European and international agenda. They also focused on the preparation of the next intergovernmental meeting this spring, which will be hosted by Romania.
In one way or another, everything we discussed today is related to a particular topic – European security, Mitov said.
The topics of discussion included energy security, investments, infrastructure projects, regional co-operation, security along EU’s external borders, Schengen, the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, and coping with the increased refugee and migration pressure.
South Eastern Europe is perhaps the most dependent region on natural gas supplies from a single supplier – Russia. This problem is becoming increasingly evident due to the crisis in Ukraine.
The creation of European Energy Market which will provide affordable, secure and sustainable energy to all EU citizens is a task which cannot be postponed, Mitov said. He emphasised that building interconnectors between Bulgaria and all of its neighbours, including Romania, is a crucial element of the architecture of Europe’s energy security along the North-South axis.
Bulgaria sets priority importance on the implementation of the already agreed projects, which are increasing the infrastructure connectivity with Romania, Mitov said. He singled out the improvements in the road infrastructure linked with the Danube Bridge 2, speeding up the construction of new bridges and of hydropower complexes on the Danube.
Cooperation between Bulgaria and Romania in the preparation for taking over the rotating EU presidency in 2018 and 2019, respectively, was also on the agenda of discussions.
Other topics included the two countries’ accession to the Schengen Area and the purposeful efforts of the two governments to carry out the reforms that would result in lifting the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism.
Mitov and Aurescu exchanged views on the current developments in Ukraine. Both countries have big minorities in Ukraine and it is important for us to see that their rights are observed. We want to see a stable and reforming Ukraine, which is possible only if lasting cease-fire and gradual de-escalation of tension are achieved, Mitov said.
The two foreign ministers shared the view that the recent events in the Black Sea region reaffirms its strategic importance and demonstrate the need of establishing a stronger, uniting and strategic approach of the European Union towards it. In this regard, they decided to pool their efforts in order to revive the Black Sea Synergy initiative, proposed in 2008, and to work actively for its practical implementation.
Close co-operation will make Bulgaria and Romania’s voice better heard in the region and the EU. Our common voice will be stronger and more powerful when it reflects the partnership and co-operation of our two nations. I assure you that I will spare no effort in this direction, Mitov said.