Borissov expresses optimism about Sofia summit on the Balkans, in spite of partial boycott

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has expressed optimism about the May 17 2018 summit on the Western Balkans to be held in Sofia, even though five countries that do not recognise Kosovo as independent are reportedly not coming.

Speaking on April 10 after talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Borissov said of the summit: “I hope that we can find a way to resolve these problems, because on May 17 we should go into the council with optimism, with problems resolved.

“We, the political elite, are responsible for this. Everything else is selfish, everything else has no significance. Whoever allows that drags down everyone.”

Borissov, who met the Serbian leader in Mostar while attending an international forum on the economic development of the Balkans, issued a call to all the leaders of the Balkans to show reason and to resist the “provocations” that have been arising recently.

“In the past few years, we have all been glad to see how the economy and investments went up. There’s one thing I am absolutely convinced of, that the EU wants peace and prosperity in the Balkans,” said Borissov, whose country currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. He said he hoped this was true for the “other big players” on the international stage.

Borissov said that the “provocations” and conflicts in the region were worrying for everyone.

“The mood is not optimistic, it is rather a feeling that something is wrong and a few months ago it was not like that,” Borisov said, referring to the incidents and verbal conficts between Serbia and Kosovo, the lack of agreement on the changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law, the tensions around Cyprus and Greece, and the war in Syria.

Borissov said that he welcomed the efforts by Vučić to maintain calm in the process of negotiations with Priština and towards peace. “I sincerely hope that our colleagues in Kosovo will continue in the same spirit,” Borissov said. He said that he would seek talks with Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo.

Vučić said that his country favoured peace and stability in the region. Serbia would continue to seek ways of finding a compromise in solving the problems between Belgrade and Priština.

Conflicts were not needed in the Balkans, Vučić said. “I will fight for stability, I will not sleep,” he said, adding that he would want the international community to intervene to preserve peace in the region.

Borissov said: “I appeal to our brothers, Muslims, Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, the whole region – to show reason because the consequences will only be on the Balkans. We have lived through that. Bulgaria went decades back just because of the war war. We should not be egotistical, think that a conflict will pass any of us by. Something can be ruined in a second, and take 20 years to recover,” noting that Mostar was a “good place to say this”.

It was this city in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was a symbol of the war 20 years ago that had stopped the development of the region, Borissov said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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