Dutch Ambassador: Bulgarian Potential Needed in EU

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | July 12, 2004, Monday // 00:00
Dutch Ambassador: Bulgarian Potential Needed in EU Photo by Novinite.com archive

H.E. Baroness Van Lynden has been Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bulgaria since 2001. She joined the Foreign service in 1980 and was posted Cairo, Beirut, London and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. From 1990 to 1994 Baroness Van Lynden was First Secretary - Permanent Representation of the Netherlands at the European Union - Brussels. During the same period Baroness Van Lynden was a part of the European Integration Department - The Hague. Before coming to Bulgaria, from 1998 till 2001 she was Deputy Head of Mission in Vienna.

She answered questions of Novinite.com Editor Nadya Dimitrova

Q: The Netherlands assumes the rotating Presidency of the European Union at a time when the bloc moves into a transitional period with a new European parliament and a new European Commission. What will be the main challenge the Dutch Presidency will face?

A: Running an efficient EU of 25 states in a period with a new commission and a new European parliament, the enlargement process with Bulgaria and Romania and the new candidate Croatia and a possible date for negotiations for Turkey are some of our priorities but also challenges. I can't say which is most challenging as everything is important and has its own place in the agenda.

Besides, decisions also have to be taken on issues related to internal security: combating terrorism, and finding European solutions to problems in the area of asylum and migration. Of course, it is necessary to stimulate economic growth. We will put an emphasis on social issues, primarily the creation of more jobs for young people. A balanced budget 2007 - 2014 has to be prepared. We will pay particular attention to the issue of communicating Europe, which was started during the Irish presidency.

Q: Do you think that Bulgaria's northern neighbour Romania will manage to close the remaining six negotiation chapters during the Dutch Presidency?

A: By technically closing all negotiation chapters last month, for which I would like to congratulate your country once again, Bulgaria has made a remarkable achievement. Romania is also making important progress. The Netherlands is committed to steering both Bulgaria and Romania into the Union with a view to the 2007 deadline. In doing so, the Dutch Presidency will act in line with the conclusions of the European Council of June 2004 and in accordance with the principle of own merits of each candidate.

In order to close technically the negotiations, Romania should do what Bulgaria does. It is important to work on realizing your commitments in all spheres - be it agriculture, internal market, reaching the technical standards as well as judicial reform. It is important to build the administrative capacity to use the funds that the EU allots.

I think that it is in the interest of both Bulgaria and Romania to join EU together. You are neighbours, you have to work together, you have a common border. Further bilateral investments and contacts need to be developed. There is no point in people saying that Romania drags them behind. It is not true. You also have a lot of work to do in implementing the commitments you have engaged in.

Q: Do you think that Turkey's EU accession talks are among the most difficult tasks the Netherlands will have to deal with during its EU Presidency?

A: A decision on starting negotiations with Turkey is due in December. The Netherlands is determined to work on three basic premises as regards Turkey: fairness, consistency and sustainability of decisions.

Q: Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot stated that the Netherlands will use its time in the top spot to "explore new ways of communicating Europe". What would these ways be?

A: We pay particular attention to the issue of communicating Europe, which was started during the Irish presidency. You saw the low activity of the people during the EU parliament elections. One of the reasons is that they do not understand how the EU affects our daily lives. So information is needed. Working on this is a priority of the presidency. We'll pay attention to what is common among us as European citizens - the norms and the values, which connect us. We will discuss this theme at three conferences. We will do the same here in Bulgaria with a trip called European Destination. Your government tries to clarify what is the EU, it has a communication strategy, a web site is made. We decided to assist in that direction. On 15 July our tour to eight Bulgarian towns, numbering around 55,000 citizens starts. Our first visit will be to the town of Lom as the aim is to meet the people and reply on the spot to their questions and to acquaint them with our experience. The idea of the programme is to be useful to the people on the spot, for example to go to a rural area and to talk about the Common agricultural policy of EU. What does that mean? What money, subsidies you can expect, what criteria you should satisfy, what EU standards have to be covered.

Q: How could the European Union benefit from Bulgaria's entry in 2007?

A: Bulgaria is part of the European family. A great asset of Bulgaria is its young well educated and skilled workforce. Once the country joins EU more and more European countries will benefit from that. Another asset is your beautiful nature. Accession will have a positive impact on Bulgaria's image abroad and that will encourage closer relations in all fields - business, tourism, etc.

Q: What measures will the Netherlands implement in combating terrorism and improving security during its Presidency?

A: One of the most important measures that the Netherlands will use in combating terrorism will be to curb more efficiently its financing. We have to ensure that favourable conditions are in place to foster closer co-operation between intelligence services, not only in a bilateral but also in a multilateral context.

Enhancement of an area of freedom, security and justice is one of the priorities of the Dutch EU presidency. The European Council in November 2004 will focus on further development of this area. At this summit the Presidency hopes to present a 5-year legislative work plan.

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