The main task of the current government was the organisation of free, democratic, transparent and fair parliamentary elections, Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Marin Raykov told a gathering of foreign diplomats in Veliko Turnovo on April 12 2013.
Raykov presented the main priorities of the caretaker cabinet, in regard to Bulgarian participation in and implementation of EU policies, energy and regional policies, the country’s commitments in support of international efforts in defence of security and sustainable development, the fight against international terrorism; strategic partnerships and support for Bulgarian communities abroad.
“Effective and transparent use of EU financial instruments and funds is a responsible commitment by the caretaker government, because these funds are an important tool for investment in growth and jobs and in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy,” he said.
Raykov said that among the most urgent tasks of the Bulgarian government was tackling unemployment, especially among young people.
He expressed the hope that, taking into account the results achieved and the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, EU member states that had reservations would adopt a constructive policy and support a common pragmatic approach.
Achieving order, efficiency and transparency in the energy sector in Bulgaria is an important agenda item for the government, Raykov said, focusing on the government’s legislative changes in the sector. “Diversification, liberalisation and achieving better energy efficiency are the correct steps in this regard,” he said.
Building a region of stability, prosperity and security in South Eastern Europe, based on European values, principles and legislation to achieve the well-being of our communities is one of Bulgaria’s main foreign policy priorities, he said.
“We want more Europe in the region,” he said, adding that as a member of the EU and NATO, Bulgaria was one of the most active supporters of Euro-Atlantic integration of the region.
Raykov said that the upcoming accession of Croatia to the EU on July 1 2013 would send a clear message to the rest of the region that EU membership was attainable when implementing the established criteria and standards. These efforts should be directed towards ensuring the rule of law, developing a rule-of-law state, the development of regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations and dealing with economic and social challenges, he said.
“For Bulgaria, good neighbourly relations are not only a requirement for EU enlargement but also key to the development of our bilateral relations with the Republic of Macedonia,” Raykov said. He outlined the direction in which these relationships must be developed, with an emphasis on a constructive approach in talks, the signing soon of a treaty on good neighbourliness and co-operation, and the creation of a mechanism for increased contacts between the two countries.
“Bulgaria supports the achievement of the European perspective of the Republic of Macedonia – for us there is no alternative to that. Our commitment to the European perspective of the Republic of Macedonia, however, is not enough. It would be good if it was bound to it,” Raykov said.
Of particular relevance today was the issue of maintaining or achieving peace and stability in the world.
“As a member of the EU, and a responsible and constructive partner in the EU and other forums of multilateral diplomacy, Bulgaria is actively involved in international efforts in support of peace, security and development,” Raykov said.
In speaking about the achievement of regional and global security, one could not be indifferent to the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and in particular the crisis in Syria, which has reached a catastrophic level, he said.
“It is in our common interest that problems are solved using the tools of diplomacy, political dialogue and negotiations,” Raykov said.
Bulgaria supports peaceful democratic processes in the Middle East, on the basis of national dialogue and respect for democratic legal order. “We are ready for co-operation with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, to seek new opportunities to boost economic ties, cultural and educational exchanges,” he said.
Bulgaria would continue to be actively involved, together with its allies and partners, in the fight against international terrorism, said Raykov, “because effective counter-terrorism requires intensive and co-ordinated efforts by the wider international community”. Bulgaria is continuing its investigation into the terrorist act in Bourgas last summer, in which five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian were killed, and will provide all the evidence to its partners and allies in the EU and NATO, he said.
Security and defence is a priority area for Bulgaria, as a full member of Nato. “We are facing many new challenges in this area – on the agenda is cybersecurity and achieving the close integration of the defence capabilities of Nato,” Raykov said.
Establishment of a free trade area in the Euro-Atlantic area would be a strong incentive for economic prosperity in the world, Raykov said. He emphasised that the government was continuing to work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership with the US and Russia and other countries of the Black Sea region, on the basis of common values and shared interests.
He expressed the government’s commitment to “the preservation and dissemination of Bulgarian culture, identity and language, as well as guaranteeing the rights of Bulgarians and Bulgarian-language communities around the world”.