Presidents of Bulgaria and Slovenia: European Integration of the Western Balkans Is a Key Factor for Security and Stability in Europe

2024-02-27 15:20:00

EU enlargement should be carried out in compliance with the principle of own merits and good-neighbourly relations, Rumen Radev said at a press conference with his Slovenian counterpart


The European integration of the Western Balkans is a key factor for ensuring security, stability and prosperity in Europe. That is why Bulgaria and Slovenia will continue to support their neighbours in the region to make progress in this process. This position was shared by the Presidents of the two countries - Rumen Radev and Nataša Pirc Musar. The Slovenian head of state is on an official visit to Bulgaria, accompanied by a business delegation.

Rumen Radev and his wife Desislava Radeva welcomed Nataša Pirc Musar and her husband Ales Musar with an official ceremony at St Alexander Nevsky square. The two presidents held a one-to-one meeting at the President's Administration, after which they chaired plenary talks between the official delegations of Bulgaria and Slovenia.

The focus of the talks was the military conflicts and the rising tensions in a number of Europe's adjacent regions, as well as their impacts on the EU member states. The two presidents also discussed the European integration of the Western Balkans, with Rumen Radev saying that the EU enlargement should happen faster, but it should be based on clear principles, mostly based on each country's own merits and good-neighbourly relations, as these principles should not become hostage to geopolitical considerations. There is no alternative to the European integration of the region, but the sustainability of the process must be guaranteed, Rumen Radev said. The President pointed out that in addition to providing support for profound reforms to strengthen the rule of law, to fight corruption and organised crime, support for the economy, it is necessary to have guarantees for the respect of human rights in the Western Balkan countries. In this regard, the President pointed out that European values are linked to the respect for cultural and historical heritage, recognition of the right to self-determination, and eradication of hate speech. The Slovenian President said that the accession of the Western Balkan countries would contribute to the stability, peace and prosperity of the region, adding that bilateral dialogue was important in this process.

Rumen Radev underlined the excellent bilateral dialogue between Bulgaria and Slovenia, as well as the constructive partnership, shared values and responsibilities of the two countries within the European Union and NATO. Rumen Radev and Nataša Pirc Musar highlighted the good economic and trade ties between Bulgaria and Slovenia, as well as the doubling in trade in recent years, but stressed that the untapped potential in areas of mutual interest should be exploited. The areas of innovation and high technologies, trade, investment, energy, and agriculture were highlighted as promising. In order to foster the economic and investment partnership, the two presidents have today opened a forum in Sofia with the participation of Bulgarian and Slovenian companies.

According to President Rumen Radev, Bulgaria can cooperate with Slovenia in the development of high technologies, joint investments in research and new industries. This will create prospects for the realisation of young people and higher added value. The future is linked to a greater exchange of information, in sharing ideas and profitable practices, the Bulgarian Head of State added. He also highlighted as promising the deepening of cooperation in the energy sector, adding that Slovenia and Bulgaria contribute to a greater diversification and security of energy supply for the region. Both countries are expanding their nuclear capacities and can collaborate in this respect. To realise the full potential of our economic relations, we need to make efforts to improve transport, energy and digital connectivity in the region, President Radev further said.

The Head of State thanked Slovenia for its support for Bulgaria's membership in the Schengen area and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Sending troops, albeit on the basis of a bilateral agreement, from a NATO member state to Ukraine means a global clash and a huge increase in the risk of a nuclear conflict, President Rumen Radev further said in his speech. The Bulgarian Head of State expressed his concern over the Russian Federation's ongoing war against Ukraine, in its second year now, and the mounting tensions and added that the strategy of achieving victory on the battlefield by military means is not yielding results. On the contrary: The number of casualties is rising, the destruction is growing, the devastating demographic crisis in Ukraine is deepening, the risk of a global clash is increasing, and the economic and social problems not only in Russia and Ukraine, but throughout Europe and the world, are becoming more serious.

We are following with undisguised anxiety the meeting of European leaders in Paris, where public opinion on sending troops of individual countries to Ukraine is beginning to be tested, Rumen Radev further said in connection with the high-level meeting in the French capital initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in the context of the second year since the beginning of the Russian Federation's war in Ukraine. In the Bulgarian President's words, the strategy of giving more and more weapons is clearly not working and we have to be very careful because the big problem is no longer the weapons but the lack of people on the battlefield.

I believe that the European leaders will show common sense and a very balanced approach in their support to Ukraine so that we do not reach an extraordinary escalation, a risk of a third world war and a nuclear conflict, Rumen Radev further said.

The Head of State called on the Bulgarian Prime Minister to give more clarifications on the readiness he has expressed for a bilateral security agreement between Ukraine and Bulgaria and stressed the need for balanced solutions and a reasonable approach on the part of the Bulgarian government. In President Radev's words, Ukraine cannot be abandoned alone, because this would mean compromising faith in our own principles and values, in international law and in the right of each country to defend its sovereignty, freedom and independence. But neither can we afford reckless actions that could lead to a global military clash, he stressed.



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