|16-17 December, 2004|
Center for the Study of Democracy
Opening remarks of Mr. Nikolay Milkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you here today. The idea for this very practically oriented International seminar on the fight against corruption within the state administration and the security services, organized together with the Center for the Study of Democracy, came as a part of the Annual Plan of the Memorandum for cooperation in the field of European and Euro-Atlantic integration between the governments of the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria. The fight against corruption is one of the key-issues, included in Membership Action Plan process where further development is expected. Now we are honored to have here participants from our region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro). Let me express our appreciation for all the efforts the Center have made to gather us here today.
On its way to NATO membership Bulgaria enjoyed the active support by the regional member states. We believe that today it is our common duty to encourage in any possible way the efforts of our neighbors and close friends and to fully support their candidacies – on bilateral basis, as well as together with our Allies.
We assess as very positive the message, sent in Istanbul, for continuation of the Alliance’s “open door” policy. We support the commitment on behalf of NATO for carefully assessing the progress made by each of the three aspirant countries, as well as the perspectives for a new round of enlargement.
We hope that at its next Summit NATO will make the next step in this direction by extending invitations to those aspirants, who are ready to assume the responsibilities of the membership.
We look forward to Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the Partnership for Peace Initiative at the earliest possible date after meeting the relevant political conditions. We will continue to support their efforts in the preparation for their effective future participation in the PfP. Both countries have achieved significant progress in the implementation of reforms in the field of defense and security sector, as well as in their adaptation to the Euro-Atlantic standards in the new security environment. Joining the PfP will further support their reform efforts and also encourage both countries’ constructive role in regional stability and cooperation.
We view the Euro-Atlantic integration as a strategic opportunity for stabilization and prosperity of the whole region of South Eastern Europe. The acceleration of this integration is a key strategic goal for the region. In its new capacity of NATO member state Bulgaria and the other Allies from the region, contributes to the strengthening of our collective abilities to achieve this goal and to enhance regional stability and security.
We are convinced that a next round of enlargement of the Alliance, to include the aspirant countries from the region, and an invitation for PfP, would undoubtedly and irreversibly lead to further strengthening of the security and stability in the Western Balkans and the entire Euro-Atlantic area.
We stand ready to further enhance our practical cooperation with these countries aimed at their successful accession to both NATO and the EU. The bilateral Memoranda for cooperation in the field of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, signed between the governments of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and Albania provide for specific areas and forms of cooperation. The government of the Republic of Bulgaria and the government of the Republic of Croatia have already signed a Memorandum for cooperation in the field of European integration. We are willing to extend that cooperation also in the Euro-Atlantic field.
We support the concerted approach of NATO and EU towards the Western Balkans. Upholding their commitments in the region is a key factor for the security and stability, and an important guarantee for the successful implementation of the objectives of the international community.
Dear participants, I hope that the presentations and discussions during this Seminar will be very useful for all of you and will contribute to the successful fulfilment of your Euro-Atlantic commitment.