Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | February 1, 2002, Friday // 00:00

H.E Jose Angel Lopez Jorrin has been Spain's Ambassador to Bulgaria since 2001. He was Spain's Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1997 to 2001. Before that he worked as deputy director of Western Europe at the Foreign Office. He also worked as a diplomat in Caracas, Venezuela, Peru and the Netherlands. H.E Jorrin is a law graduate who started his diplomatic career in 1974.

H.E Jose Angel Lopez Jorrin met Martina Iovcheva -Editor-in-Chief of and The News.


Q: What are Spain's top priorities during its six-month EU presidency?

A: Spain has started its presidency on January 1st and this semester lies in very specific historic circumstances - the tragic events of the 11th of September have had a big influence in international relations, have brought forward the necessity to fight against terrorism and also to develop the core aspects related to justice and home affairs as well as international cooperation in that field. On the other hand, this semester is witnessing the introduction of the euro, which is very important achievement to the process that started ten years ago. The euro is perhaps one of the symbols of the vocation for integration of the member states in the European Union and it is also going to be the symbol of the most powerful economic and social units in the world.

Above all we're entering in the final stage of the European Union enlargement process, which started several years ago, which will lead at the same time to a necessity to revise how the EU is functioning and how it should function once it is not longer with fifteen members but with 25-28 members. Spain considers it should concentrate on six priorities: the fight against international terrorism; to make sure the euro is successful; to carry forward and give impetus to the process of liberalization of the economy and the social cohesion what we call the Lisbon process; to ensure that the EU develops its proper way in the international relations, to concentrate on the debate on the future of Europe, which will also start this semester through the convention that was called by the Laeken council and finally to conduct the enlargement process.

Those are the main six priorities and at the same time the main six challenges; if there are difficulties they will certainly arise there. Spain intends to push firmly towards the achievement of these objectives, starting from the philosophy of continuity on the one hand. We're just going to develop what has been started from the previous presidencies. One of the dimensions is continuity and there is another dimension that we have set under our own motto "More Europe."

Q: Does that mean that Spain entirely favors eastward enlargement?

A: Yes, Spain favors the process of enlargement. I would say that in terms of public opinion, according to latest opinion polls more than 60% of the Spanish population favors eastward enlargement, which is interesting to note because from the official and formal point of view there is no doubt that the process of enlargement is going to continue and carry forward until all present member states join the union.

Q: What should be Bulgaria's top priorities, concerning Bulgaria's joining EU during Spain's presidency?

A: The process of enlargement is taking place under the principles of differentiation and catching up, which mean mainly that each country will be judged according to its own merits and on the other hand countries, which have started later but make progress they can move forward. This is the philosophy that presides all the process of enlargement and this is the philosophy that is going to preside during Spain's Presidency.

Bulgaria as well as Romania started later the process of negotiations. As far as Bulgaria is concerned, a lot of progress has been made and there is a definite will of the present government to accelerate the process of negotiations. We're all in this idea; we'll have to see the results of this. There is no intention to leave a particular country behind; every candidate's entry should be made possible at the moment when it is ready. Bulgaria is right now undergoing a process of very intensive legislation, which has to be continued by a process of implementation.

Q: How will Spain continue to back Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union?

A: Spain is convinced that Bulgaria must become a member of all the Euro-Atlantic structures, NATO as well. As far as EU, in Laeken was decided that the commission would prepare some kind of program during this year in order to help Bulgaria. The commission is working on that and Spain will cooperate with the commission and we'll try to come up with some program that will really boost this process of negotiation and preparation.

Q: What are your forecasts, fears and hopes, concerning the euro?

A: The launching of the euro has been very successful, is being very successful so far. We can just hope that this will continue like this in the future. Spain of course is keen in directing this process from being aware of the need to combat any possibility of forgery an fraud and on the other hand also being aware of helping the further coordination of the EU members states and economies. We have the base for the solidity of this common currency. I have to say that the introduction of the euro has been even more successful than expected and faster than expected. Let's hope that this will continue.

At the beginning it is perhaps certain that there will be some difficulties here and there. But, I think, the benefits are going to outweigh any possible inconveniences. We think that this is going to be the symbol and the very tool of the most important economic unit in the whole world; this will even help recover the economic momentum that was having difficulties last year. The Euro is a very important instrument of European integration. The euro is a very important landmark - the introduction of the euro, this is not just a new currency.

Q: What are the main economic factors that would attract Spanish companies to invest in the Bulgarian economy?

A: The economic relations between Bulgaria and Spain have big opportunities to develop. I have to admit that at this precise moment the level of our exchanges is not as high as it should be expected. We have those wonderful and marvelous relations in the political, social and cultural sphere; there is a lot to be done in the economic sphere.

Bulgaria is undergoing a very important process of transformation, which is very much needed in order to give confidence and security to foreign investors. The main economic factors and enterprises in Spain belong to the private sphere so we can talk to them very nicely about the possibilities to invest here but in the end it's up to them to take the decision and they need perspectives and that is why all the transformations that take place in Bulgaria to create a market economy and security and rule of law are going to help to increase this flow of exchanges. There are many fields in which we can collaborate from tourism, commercial exchanges and so on. So far in the textile and mechanical fields there are already interesting movements and there will be joint ventures in the future. This year is important since there will be missions of businessmen that will come to explore and we can just hope that they will decide to invest.

Q: What do you consider the most important contribution to the development of the Spanish-Bulgarian relations during your mandate as Spain's Ambassador to Bulgaria?

A: I would say that the fact that I have been able to continue the same excellent levels of relations that we already had. Having such an excellent level of relations I think that the best achievement that I can have is to maintain this level such as it is.

Q: Could you describe Bulgaria in three words?

A: That would not do Bulgaria a favor to describe Bulgaria in three words - Bulgaria is a very interesting country. I'd say it is homogeneous country, proud of itself and very sure what its future is.

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