Today MEPs had an exchange of views with Ekaterina Zaharieva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, at the hearing of the Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET). The issue of Western Balkans has evoked keen attention of MEPs, both for its paramount importance for the EU, but also for its special place for incumbent Bulgarian presidency. (Image: Minister Zaharieva in AFET hearing, debating with MEPs).
Previously European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker stated:
“Bulgaria can and will be a source of inspiration for the countries of the Western Balkans. That is why the Bulgarian prime minister rightly rules their relations with them as a priority”.
“I want to send the message to the Western Balkan countries that joining the EU is not a natural thing, but it needs to be won with a lot of effort. All conflicts must be settled before their accession to the EU”.
“The countries of the Western Balkans deserve a real European perspective. Their accession to the Union will not take place until the end of this mandate of this European Commission because they do not meet the necessary conditions. They need to make the necessary reforms”. However Juncker’s Commission has been continuously criticised for lack of ambition, especially in terms of EU Enlargement policy.
In spite of existing criticism of Juncker’s Commission, Minister Zaharieva has an optimistic view on the perspective of Western Balkans, joining the European Union: