HE Saint-Geours: France would Hate to See Bulgaria's EU Entry Delayed

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | December 19, 2005, Monday // 00:00
HE Saint-Geours: France would Hate to See Bulgaria's EU Entry Delayed Ambassador Saint-Geours reiterates corruption and organized crime combat, as well as judicial system reforms create the greatest difficulties for bringing to a successful end Bulgaria's accession process. Photo by Kameliya Atanasova (Sofia News Agency)

HE Yves Saint-Geours was appointed France's Ambassador to Bulgaria in September 2004. Prior to his arrival in Sofia he served as counselor of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy General Director (International Cooperation and Development) with the Foreign Ministry (2000-2003) and director of the Scientific, University and Research Cooperation with the ministry. Head of the French Scientific Institute for the Andies in Lima (1985-1989). Master's degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Agrege in history, Ph.D. in history. Plenipotentiary minister II degree. Speaks English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese.

Ambassador Saint-Geours answered questions of Sofia News Agency Editor-in-Chief Milena Hristova.

This is the third interview in a series that will present to Sofia News Agency readers the views of EU member states ambassadors on Bulgaria's EU prospects.

Q: Which were Bulgaria's achievements and failures in 2005 in its efforts to draw closer to EU accession?

A: The European Commission regular monitoring report on Bulgaria, which was released in October 2005, analyzed the achievements and areas of concern in the country's preparation for EU accession in 2007. I can only cite this document, which evaluates the current situation precisely and in great details.

Q: What should Bulgaria do during the first half of the new year to keep January 1, 2007 a feasible target date for EU accession?

A: The answer is simple. In order to accede to the European Union as scheduled on January 1, 2007, Bulgaria should meet the recommendations in the European Commission report, especially in the fields, singled out as "areas of serious concern".

First of all corruption and organized crime combat, as well as the reforms in the judicial system are the issues that create the greatest difficulties for bringing to a successful end Bulgaria's accession process. True, these are the areas which mark the least progress, although they have been singled out as problematic areas of top priority for several years already. There is nothing original in this remark as it is pointed out on a daily basis by representatives of the EU member states, as well as the European institutions. Certainly, the political will declared by the Bulgarian authorities and the adoption of legislation must be considered a contribution in this respect. What we are expecting now is visible progress on the field.

This is an area of concern for us first of all because France, which has been a staunch supporter of Bulgaria's EU accession from the very beginning, would not like to see this goal postponed because of a failure to install a working judicial system, which brings the criminals to justice. In addition to that reforming the judicial system is first and foremost in the interest of the Bulgarian people.

Q: Could a delay in the complete ratification of Bulgaria's EU accession treaty by all member states deal a blow to the country's accession in 2007?

A: Yes, under international legislation the non-ratification of the accession treaty by one member state would block the enforcement of the treaty and consequently Bulgaria's EU accession.

The procedure however is separate from the safeguard clause, whose triggering depends on how prepared the country is for EU accession, which is different from the ratification.

Q: Could the recent riots in poor suburbs impact the public sentiments to EU enlargement?

A: Not at all. These two issues are not interrelated. The acts of violence in France at the beginning of November, in the suburbs of several towns, can be analyzed as a socially driven movement, with no organization or clear demands by the youth in these districts, which feel like they are excluded from the French society. Issues of this type bear no relation to the EU enlargement.

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