PRIORITIES OF THE BULGARIAN CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE OF THE SOUTH-EAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS /2015-2016/
1. Bulgaria took over the Chairmanship-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) for the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016. Under the motto “SEECP – 20 Years Key to Regional Cooperation”, the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office works actively towards strengthening the role of SEECP as a leading political format for cooperation in the region and a factor for security, stability, and prosperity.
2. The 20th Anniversary of SEECP (1996-2016), which coincides with the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office, entails additional positive impetus for enhancing cooperation in the fields of mutual interest. Bulgaria concentrated its efforts on strengthening the role of the Process as an effective and result-oriented initiative.
3. Raising the visibility of SEECP among the EU institutions, as a functional political platform, is of great importance for the successful European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkan countries, which Bulgaria will continue to encourage.
4. Deepening the interaction between SEECP and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the operational arm of the Process, is fundamental for the successful and fruitful development of regional cooperation. The Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office works actively in this direction.
5. Deepening the parliamentary cooperation in the SEE region is one of the major priorities of the SEECP. The efforts of the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office is directed towards the election of Sofia as the seat of the Permanent Secretariat of the SEECP Parliamentary Assembly (SEECP PA).
6. Regarding the sectoral partnership, the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office will focus on three key areas of interaction:
- Connectivity – Transport, Energy, and Infrastructure. The implementation of projects in the field of transport and energy infrastructure entails much added value for the region and it will give a strong impetus to the competitiveness and economic growth of SEE. Due to limited financial resources, alternative methods of financing based on public-private partnership should be pursued.
- Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression. Promoting the freedom of expression and the media freedom – through the creation of diverse, independent, and sustainable media environment – is an indicator of societal progress. The Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office is focused on ensuring access to a wider spectrum of information sources for the citizens (press, radio and television, internet, mobile phones) and on creating an online regional media platform.
- Migration and Tackling the Refugee flow. Joining efforts to address the increased migratory pressure by creating an efficient regional policy, based on actual solidarity with the affected countries.
7. In addition to the above-mentioned priority areas of interaction, the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office put a special emphasis on the principle of continuity in the SEECP’s work. Furthermore, achieving the objectives set forth by the Bulgarian C-i-O is guided by the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
8. Priority is also given to other key areas, which are important for the region, such as:
- stabilisation and economic growth;
- environmental protection and fighting climate change;
- regional youth and sports policy (focus on children with special needs);
- human capacity development – culture and education.