There is no doubt that the biggest success of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union was the Western Balkans, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told the European Parliament on July 3.
Borissov was addressing the European Parliament three days after the end of his country’s holding of the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. He is scheduled to address the National Assembly on the topic of the EU Presidency on July 13.
He said that Bulgaria had succeeded in persuading everyone that making a priority of the Western Balkans was the correct direction for the future of the region, and that there could be no peace and prosperity on the continent until all of Europe was united.
Borissov said that Bulgaria’s efforts had produced real results.
He pointed to the EU-Western Balkans summit held in Sofia on May 17 which he said had helped Athens and Skopje to resolve the dispute over the use of the name “Macedonia”.
“This was a historic moment and achievement, with which we must all be proud – you have also supported us very much. The next big step was last week when the Council decided to start the negotiations for Macedonia and Albania’s accession to the EU,” Borissov said.
Borissov said that the region’s connectivity had been another priority of Bulgaria’s EU Presidency, adding that at a meeting in Sofia, it had been agreed that the EU would provide more funds for connectivity.
He said that other achievements included the efforts made in the field of security, both internally and externally.
“We have defended the interests of the citizens of Europe, and have endeavoured to be balanced and honest mediators,” Borissov said.
“At the EU-Turkey summit in Varna on March 26 we sat at a table and talked about all the problems. The issue of refugees and security at the EU’s external borders is painful and difficult. But our dealings with Turkey are working and we have zero pressure from there,” he said.
Borisov also reported successes in improving the Schengen Information System, the Visa Code, the Schengen Border Code and interoperability.
No stone had been left unturned in seeking to reform the Dublin Agreement on the asylum system, he said. “We archieved a lot with the support of the European Parliament,” he said.
According to Borissov, the common feature of all the achievements of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU is that unity between states, institutions and citizens has been achieved.
He told the European Parliament that Bulgaria will continue to look ahead and work for its full membership in all areas of EU policies – Schengen and the euro zone.
“We have a high economic growth of four per cent, unemployment below six per cent, low external debt below 30 per cent, a significant financial reserve and virtually zero budget deficit. We have shown that we are a loyal partner and we are patient, I believe in diplomacy, not the practice of veto, because we all know how that ends,” Borissov told MEPs.