Push for Western Balkans EU Membership Highlighted at Sofia Forum

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | April 8, 2024, Monday // 12:15
Bulgaria: Push for Western Balkans EU Membership Highlighted at Sofia Forum

In a recent gathering organized by the European Liberal Forum, ALDE, and the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, outgoing Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mariya Gabriel, underscored Sofia's commitment to the European Union membership of Western Balkan countries.

Addressing the EU Meets the Balkans Forum, Gabriel stressed the importance of Serbia's implementation of reforms, particularly in areas concerning human rights and minority rights. She emphasized the necessity for Belgrade to align with the EU's common policies and advocated for Kosovo's inclusion in the EU's agenda.

Gabriel also called on North Macedonia to fulfill its obligations for European integration, including constitutional changes and the inclusion of Bulgarians in the constitution. She reiterated Bulgaria's dedication to facilitating the accession of Western Balkan nations into the EU.

Echoing Gabriel's sentiments, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely emphasized the imperative of the next European Commission's mandate to welcome new members from the Western Balkans. Varhely expressed optimism about the progress made by Western Balkan partners in their path toward EU integration.

Ilhan Kyuchuk, leader of European liberals, highlighted Bulgaria's priorities, including accession to the Schengen Area and the Eurozone. He called for flexibility in the rules governing the Recovery and Sustainability Plan to maximize its benefits for Bulgaria and stressed the significance of full Schengen membership for Bulgarian national dignity.

Former Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel emphasized the importance of fulfilling commitments for progress in EU negotiations. She emphasized the EU's willingness to engage in dialogue with Western Balkan partners and stressed the importance of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation.

Before the forum, Gabriel expressed hope for continuity in Bulgaria's foreign policy priorities under her successor, including accession to Schengen by land, entry into the Eurozone, and membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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Tags: Western Balkans, EU, Sofia Forum, reforms

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