“The European perspective of the Western Balkan countries is an investment in the stability of the region as well as of all Europe. We want our neighbours to receive hands-on support. People there should feel that there is somebody behind them who supports them. We want a clear signal to be sent that each one of those countries will have a European horizon within the framework of the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council.” Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva said this during a session with Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretary General Goran Svilanović.
Within the framework of the meeting, Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva stressed that Bulgaria attaches paramount importance to regional cooperation in South-eastern Europe and regards it as an essential tool for building security and stability in the region.
She emphasised that during her visits to the Western Balkan countries she familiarised herself with the actual situation and the outstanding problems in those countries. “I do agree that part of the reforms that lie ahead for them are not really popular. These are difficult reforms and will cost them a lot, but they should be aware that the efforts they make will sooner or later produce the desired results. Bulgaria has been there and we know what is in store for them, but we also know that it is worthwhile,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.
The Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council stressed the crucial importance for the development of the region of its connectivity in every respect. He said that it is essential for us to be realists and face the truth about what has been done so far, so as to be aware of what lies ahead for each of the countries aspiring to join the European Union.
Ekaterina Zaharieva and Goran Svilanović agreed that each of the Western Balkan countries should be treated on the basis of clear criteria and performance should be judged on their own merits.
In 2018, ten years will be completed since the establishment of the Regional Cooperation Council in Sofia.
In this connection, the two rallied behind the idea to mark the anniversary by a joint event in the Bulgarian capital.