Eastern European countries should not be faced with the dilemma of choosing between the EU and Russia, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on May 22 during the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga.
“The establishment of a functioning democracy, strong institutions, and a strong economy is in the interest of partner countries and the EU, as well as Russia,” Borissov said.
Deepening of relations between the EU and eastern neighbours will bring mutual benefits in socio-economic and political spheres and promote stability and prosperity in the region, he said.
“Bulgaria supports the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the countries of the Eastern Partnership and visa liberalisation for those countries, when the necessary conditions are met,” Borissov said in a speech at the plenary session of the summit.
On visa liberalisation, Borissov said that Bulgaria welcomed the progress of Ukraine and Georgia and expressed hope that the two countries will successfully complete the process as soon as possible, following the example of the Republic of Moldova, for which visa restrictions were lifted in 2014.
“Holding this meeting less than two years after the Vilnius Summit, and considering the dramatic events that took place in the region in the meantime, demonstrates the unifying power of the Eastern Partnership and its potential to achieve long-term stability and prosperity in Eastern Europe,” Borissov said.
He said that success was linked to the capacity and will of the governments of partner countries to implement agreed reforms.
“Bulgaria was among the first (EU) member states to ratify the bilateral Association Agreements with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. These agreements are a recognition of the hard work and progress of partner countries in recent years towards a stable and prosperous democracy and I am confident that this is not the end of our cooperation, but rather an open process,“ he said.
“We expect relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue evolving in a positive way, depending on the level of commitment they can undertake and on identified mutual interests. Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for Bulgaria and we are ready to constructively participate in finding a mutually satisfactory model of relations with the EU. I hope the desire of Belarus to develop closer ties with the EU becomes irreversible, which would allow it to more broadly use the opportunities the Eastern Partnership has to offer,” Borissov said.
He said that deepening of relations between the EU and eastern neighbours would contribute to mutual benefits in socio-economic and political spheres and promote stability and prosperity in the region of Eastern Europe.