Tag Archives: Sofia

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.

 

Bulgaria starts EU presidency

The priorities of the Bulgarian presidency are driven by its motto: ‘United we stand strong’, which is also the motto of the coat of arms of the Republic of Bulgaria. The presidency will work with its partners on unity among the member states and the EU institutions to provide concrete solutions to build a stronger, more secure and solidary Europe.

The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every six months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.

Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’. This system was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18 month period. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries prepares its own more detailed 6-month programme.

The current trio is made up of the presidencies of the Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria.

Image: King Teres’ (450 – 431 BC) gold mask – a masterpiece of Thracian artists, attributed to first ruler of the Odrysian kingdom, National Archaeological Museum Sofia, Bulgaria.