Italian Ambassador Mr. Stefano Baldi: Bulgaria is Absolutely Ready to Join Schengen, Since All Technical Criteria Are Met
Exclusive interview of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) with His Excellency,Mr. Stefano Baldi, Ambassador of Italy to the Republic of Bulgaria.
CAREER / PROFESSIONAL ROUTE:
Stefano Baldi was born in Città della Pieve (Italy) on April 8, 1961.
Ambassador Baldi arrived in Sofia on 19th of September 2016.
He is a career diplomat in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation. Before the appointment as Ambassador of Italy to Bulgaria he was a Training Director at the Ministry since 2011.
He was previously Head of the Science and Technology Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2011. From 2006 to 2010 he was First Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the European Union, responsible for legal and financial aspects of the Common Foreign and Security policy as Relex Counsellor. He has also served at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organizations in Geneva and to the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York in charge for disarmament affairs. He has been the first head of the Statistical Office of the Ministry from 2000 to 2002.
He works with many Italian universities (Roma La Sapienza, LUISS, Roma TRE, LUMSA, Trento, Pavia, Firenze) holding seminars and courses in international affairs, particularly in multilateral diplomacy. He held seminars on Soft skills applied to International careers.
His most recent research focuses on diplomatic management, Social media for International Affairs and Books written by diplomats. He is author of more than 15 books. His more recent publications include several books on the activities of diplomats (Diplomatici in azione, 2016) and a book on Management for diplomats (Manuale di management per diplomatici, 2016). He has published, both in Italian and in English, the results of a comprehensive research on Books written by Italian Diplomats (Through the Diplomatic Looking Glass, Diplo, 2007).
From 2013 to 2016 he has been producer and speaker of a weekly Radio Programme on Diplomats at Radio LUISS.
He has a personal website (http://baldi.diplomacy.edu) and he is responsible for the Blog on Training “Diplo Learning Corner” (http://diplolearn.wordpress.com).
1. What do you expect from the Bulgarian EU Presidency?
The Presidency of the EU Council is a unique opportunity for Bulgaria to increase its international visibility. Ten years after its accession to the EU, Bulgaria can foster its image as a "success story" of the EU enlargement policy with its achievements in terms of financial stability, economic growth and its successful path towards solid democratic institutions. In this respect, Bulgaria represents a good example for neighbouring countries, sending a concrete message on the European perspective of Western Balkans.
2. What do you believe should be the key areas of focus during the Presidency? Integration of Western Balkans, Cyber security? Or something else...?
Western Balkans represent a shared priority for us, and Italy is ready to support Bulgaria in its effort to increase the EU commitment towards the whole region.
Among the highest priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency I would also mention migration, both in its "internal” and in its "external" dimension. Internally we need to achieve an effective reform of the Dublin Regulation, which has proven dramatically inadequate to address the unprecedented migratory pressure coming from Africa and the Middle East. Externally we need to strengthen our cooperation with Countries of origin and transit of migratory flows, ensuring a human and effective management of the phenomenon.
These are extremely complex, sensitive and potentially divisive issues, thus the work of the Bulgarian Presidency will not be easy at all. But again, Italy will provide any possible support to Bulgaria in order to fulfill its task.
3. Do you think Bulgaria is ready to join Schengen and what would be the consequences of such an action in your opinion?
Let me be very clear about this. Bulgaria is absolutely ready to join Schengen, since all technical criteria are met. Italy has been among the strongest supporters of Bulgaria's accession to Schengen. It is a matter of applying the rules that the EU has set. Therefore we should be fair and act consequently. The sooner the better. I also think that the EU Commission president Jean–Claude Juncker was recently adamant in his State of the Union address saying that it is high time to bring Bulgaria into the Schengen Area.
4. How do you find life in Bulgaria?
I must confess that before coming to Sofia, I had very high expectations about Bulgaria, as I had got particularly positive feedback from my predecessors. After more than one year since the beginning of my mandate, I can say that all my expectations have been fully met. I find life in Bulgaria very nice and pleasant. Sofia, in particular, has positively surprised me with its rich cultural offer and its lively atmosphere. But also Bulgaria, in general, has a lot to offer, starting from the beauty of its landscapes and its cultural heritage. It's definitely a beautiful, interesting and safe Country.
5. How do you feel about the relations of your country with Bulgaria?
And is there anything specific you would like to be achieved in means of cooperation during the Bulgarian EU Presidency?
Our bilateral relations are excellent, in political, economic and cultural terms. Politically, high level visits and meetings are increasingly frequent and we have excellent synergies in all multilateral fora. Our economic cooperation remains strong and solid: we have more than 5000 registered enterprises in Bulgaria, creating more than 50000 jobs and producing about 10% of Bulgarian GDP. Our cultural ties are also deeply rooted in history and continue to strengthen.
As for the Presidency, the best achievements we can hope for is to open a new phase of the European integration process, advancing in the most crucial dossiers and providing concrete answers to our citizens' concerns. We fully share and support the Bulgarian agenda and I think there is room for realistic optimism.
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