Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Sofia hosts Western Balkans Summit

The EU – Western Balkans Summit will take at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 17 May. It will bring together heads of state or government of EU member states with the Western Balkans partners: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo.

The meeting will be hosted by Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council. It will by chaired by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk who, together with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, will represent the European Union.

The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn will also attend the Summit.

The Western Balkans partners will be represented by Edi Rama, Duško Marković, Aleksandar Vučić, Hashim Thaçi, Bakir Izetbegović as well as Zoran Zaev.
Representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, the European investment Bank and the Regional Cooperation Council will also participate.

The Summit should first and foremost reaffirm the European perspective of the whole region. It will be centred on the theme of connectivity with a view to improving the links between the EU and the Western Balkans as well as within the region itself. The summit will also aim to boost cooperation in areas of mutual security concerns, including terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration.

The leaders of the European Union are expected to adopt a declaration with which the Western Balkans partners have aligned themselves.

EU-NATO: informal meeting in Sofia

“We will have today, I believe, a good discussion with the Defence Ministers in an informal setting, so we will not take any decisions” – the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said ahead of the NATO meeting in Sofia.

“We will have, first of all, the opportunity to look at the implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in particular. The projects, the state-of-play of the advancement of the implementation of the projects, and obviously starting to prepare the European Council in June that will focus again on how much we have advanced on our European defence work. And indeed, I have to say, I am very satisfied – it is a remarkable job Ministers have managed to do together.”

“And then we will have another point that to me is very important: a discussion with the Deputy Secretary Generals of the United Nations and NATO that are both here with us on how and what we can do better in the world together, coordinating our missions and operations in peacekeeping, prevention of conflict and crisis management. It will be a broad range – let’s say 360 degree – look at the world to see where cooperation is already working, and working well, and where we can and must do more, and what kind of synergies we can have.”

“We will have the NATO summit in July, so it is also an important moment to prepare for that. We will come there with important work done on military mobility, making it easier for military equipment and personnel to move around Europe. This is work that the European Union is doing in coordination with NATO and that, I believe, will be at a very advanced stage for the July Summit with NATO” – Mogherini concluded.


EU-Turkey meeting in Varna

The EU-Turkey leaders’ meeting will take place on 26 March at the Evksinograd residence in Varna, Bulgaria.

It will bring together Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (pictured), and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey.

This working dinner will be an occasion to assess matters of mutual interest and recent developments in Turkey, including the country’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and its involvement in Syria.

At their last EU summit on 22-23 March, EU leaders called on Turkey to respect Cyprus’ sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources, in line with EU and international law.

They also recalled Turkey‘s obligation to respect international law and good neighbourly relations, and normalize relations with all EU member states including the Republic of Cyprus.

Furthermore,  the European Union  expressed its grave concern over the continued detention of EU citizens in Turkey. It called for the swift and positive resolution of these issues.

Borissov reminds about Saddam’s ‘chemical weapons’ amid #Salisbury

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is not sure Moscow was indeed behind Salisbury attack, and he ensured  that he his articulate with the other EU leaders.

“This is because we all trust the position of the UK. I told Theresa May my position. I reminded her that there was a time when Saddam Hussein was accused of having a chemical arsenal. Tony Blair later had to apologise but the consequences remain monstrous to this day. Maybe I’m one of the oldest, and I’m trying to think more in these terms. But there is a common position and we support it”, Borissov said, as quoted by EurActiv. 

“We find ourselves in times worse than the Cold War. During the Cold War, there were rules. Now I’m not optimistic for the peaceful future of the world,” Borissov added.

The “mass expulsion of diplomats” and the recall of the EU’s own ambassador from Moscow for consultations, would “hardly bring more peace, more calm and more understanding” – Borissov regretted.

“I expressed my views and asked for more information. ‘Highly likely’ is not ‘certainly,” he said and indicated that he expects a “rapid escalation” in the next days and weeks.

“Many countries will start recalling their ambassadors,” Borissov concluded, but ensured that Bulgaria had no intention to follow this way.

EU countries to react on Skirpals case on national level

During the EU Summit in Brussels  a number of European governments decided to support the decision of the UK  to expel Russian diplomats over #Skripals case. Baltic states, Poland and Denmark are prepared to follow the UK stance on Russia.

At the Summit, the European leaders agreed to “recall for consultations” the EU Ambassador from Moscow  – a tradition diplomatic measure of demonstrating the displeasure and disagreement. However German chancellor Angela Merkel underlined that it is important that EU members to conduct common policy towards Russia, but the same time continue dialogue with Moscow. At present there are governments who are prepared to align with the UK position on #SalisburyAttacks, and those who are requesting evidence of Russian involvement.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, chairing the EU rotating presidency, said he is not sure Moscow is behind the attack, while the UK government, describing  #Skripals incident of chemical weapons use on its territory, applied term “highly likely”.

The Council president Donald Tusk confirmed the EU agrees with the UK, that it is “highly likely” that Russia is behind the attack, because there is no other “plausible explanation” of #Skripals case.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said she was ready to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity gesture with the UK. “I think that national measures will be applied already starting from next week”,  Grybauskaite told reporters,  Baltic states, Poland and Denmark are prepared to follow the UK stance on Russia, expelling diplomats. “No space for Baroque diplomacy” – she tweeted on #Salisbury case.

French government spokesman said it was too early for Paris to decide on a response to #Salisbury incident and it would wait for “definitive conclusions” before adopting a position.

Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko said, Moscow is willing to participate in an investigation, and is requesting an access to Julia Skripal, who is Russian citizen. “We want to know the truth” – Yakovenko said.

MEPs stand for Schengen enlargement

The enlargement of the Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania is in focus of the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Despite Bulgaria and Romania fulfilling the necessary criteria and repeated calls from the MEPs to let them join, the Schengen area has not been expanded to these two countries yet as EU national governments have to unanimously agree to allow new states to enter the border-free zone.

The process regarding Croatia’s entry is ongoing, while Cyprus has a temporary derogation from joining the Schengen area.

“We pushed you. You did your homework but the problem is the unanimity in the Council” –  Portuguese MEP Carlos Coelho said. Romanian S&D MEP Emilian Pavel said: “Prolonging this situation, this uncertainty, brings a negative image of the EU, people see that we are treated as second class citizens.”

“The Commission has repeatedly said that both Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all technical criteria but because some countries object, we are not members. It is sad that we allow politics to stand in the way of rules” – Bulgarian EPP member Emil Radev added.

Fellow Bulgarian Asim Ademov, also a member of the EPP group, regrets “a lack of solidarity” and “double standards”.

Portuguese EPP member Carlos Coelho wrote Parliament’s report on the revision of the Schengen Information System. However there is also an ongoing debate on corruption and organised crime in both countries, casting the shadow of doubt on the possibility to join Schengen without delivering convincing evidence of the defeat of the organised crime.

Bulgaria’ lion cubs freedom at stake

The fate of two lion cubs liberated from Bulgaria’ squalid illegal zoo touched the hearts of thousands of people around the world, expecting the swift transfer of Masoud and Terez to an appropriate rescue centre. The story had a dramatic twist when the mayor of Razgrad and the city councilors decided to act as owners of the cubs and send them to another zoo in Bulgaria. Government officials have since been blocking all efforts to bring the two cubs and the 3-year-old lion Ivan-Asen – rescued from Razgrad – to FELIDA big cats rescue centre, our sanctuary in the Netherlands.

In September 2017 three inbred cubs were born in an illegal zoo of Razgrad. Just hours after that their mother rejected them and trampled them over. The owner of the zoo, Municipality of the city of Razgrad took no action to help the cubs, who were about to be just another number in the list of dead animals in the squalid animal jail, but the newborns were rescued by local activists and veterinarians. Miraculously, two of the cubs – Masoud and Terez – survived and were transported to the capital Sofia, and are currently taken care of by two animal welfare organizations – Wild Animals and FOUR PAWS.

The animal lovers and activists assemble their ranks to pressure the authorities into releasing the permits for survival cubs transfer to animal sanctuaries, where animals can enjoy conditions close to their habitat.  They insist on providing a species-appropriate home and adequate medical care for Masoud, Terez and Ivan-Asen by appealing  to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov and relevant ministers of his cabinet.

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