ENHANCING STABILITY IN THE REGION, MAIN PRIORITY OF BULGARIA’S SOUTH-EAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE
The Council of Ministers has approved the Bulgarian government’s agenda for the Bulgarian South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Chairmanship-in-Office in the period May 2007 – May 2008 and its organization support.
The main priority of the Bulgarian SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office will be to enhance stability in the region and to strengthen regional cooperation in close interaction with the European Union. This will take place in the context of the currently implemented transformation of regional cooperation in South-Easter Europe and the application of the “regional ownership” principle. In that sense, an important dimension of activities under the Bulgarian chairmanship-in-office will be connected with the transformation of the Stability Pact and the launching, as of 2008, of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).
As an EU and NATO member-state, Bulgaria will remain a strong proponent of the European and Euro-Atlantic perspective for countries in the region, so that the region should prove an area of peace, stability, security and good neighbourly relations. This, as well as efforts to achieve an internationally recognized solution to the Kosovo status, will be considered with priority during the upcoming political discussions within the term of the Bulgarian SEECP chairmanship-in-office. The agenda will include a meeting of SEECP heads of state and government, three meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, several sessions of the SEECP Committee of Political Directors and of the SEECP Troika on the Political Directors’ level.
Along the lines of parliamentary cooperation in South-East Europe, the traditional meeting of SEECP participating states’ speakers of parliament will be held. Work on the setting up of the Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South-Eastern Europe will be of special interest. Sofia’s application to become the seat of this Secretariat was approved at the end of March, in preference to the applications of Belgrade and Skopje.
Three ministerial meetings will be organized by sectors: of the Ministers of Transport of Central European Initiative and SEECP participating states, on the topic of Modernizing and Optimizing Transport Infrastructure along the Main Lines of the Trans-European Transport Network, of the Ministers of Defence of SEE states, and of the Ministers of Environment of SEE states.
Other priorities on the agenda of the Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-office are the development of public-private partnership, activation of cooperation with the non-governmental sector, and enhancing the administrative potential of countries in the region in the context of one of the five priority dimensions of regional cooperation in South-Eastern Europe, the development of human capital. In that connection, the Bulgarian chairmanship-in-office envisages the organization of a forum together with the Balkan Political Club, with the support of the Stability Pact for SEE and the European Commission, which will focus on the development of strategic aspects of the introduction of new technologies and the contribution of scientific research, education, business and the state administration.
The Bulgarian chairmanship-in-office envisages to launch the building of a Regional Energy Information Centre in Sofia.
Another issue on the agenda of the Bulgarian chairmanship-in-office will be the future of the Healthcare Network in South-East European countries within the framework of the current Stability Pact Social Cohesion Initiative and the raising of political support on the part of SEECP for its inclusion in the RCC. As a chair of the Network for the first half of 2007, Bulgaria hosted the 16th Regional Meeting of the Political Coordinators. (Sofia, 21-23 June).
In February 2008, a Roundtable of SEE Country Tourist Administrations Managers will take place, to be organized by the State Agency for Tourism. On 8-9 April 2008, Sofia will host the Annual Spring Meeting of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative (DPPI).
The decree, adopted by the Government today, sets up a Coordinating Committee, headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lyubomir Kyuchukov, which will coordinate the activities on preparing the Bulgarian SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office in the period May 2007 – May 2008.
SEECP is a forum for diplomatic and political dialogue aimed at enhancing regional cooperation and good-neighbourly relations among Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Croatia. The initiative was launched during the Sofia meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of South-East European countries (6-7 July 1996). At the Summit in Zagreb, on 11 May 2007, Bulgaria officially took over the one-year chairmanship-in-office from Croatia.