Common “Balkan” Presidency of the EU in 2018

4 October 2017
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Varna, a city strongly connected with Greece, and more specifically the palace of Euxinograd, hosted the 1st Quadrilateral Summit Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia.

Tsar’s Ferdinand summer palace was where the Bulgarian premier, Boiko Borissov welcomed the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras and the Romanian PM Mihai Tudose.

The talks of the four men focused on developments in the region, on the European course of Western Balkans, finance, energy, transports and infrastructure but also on various crisis tackling, security and the current migrant/refugee crisis.

They all agreed on the importance not only of the region’s stability, peace and secutiry but on the whole of Europe. Something that will be achieved thanks to a multi-level cooperation, launched at the Summit in question.

Borissov, Tsipras, Vucic and Tudose made sure this multilateral meeting becomes a permanent scheme since they agreed on arranging the 2nd such Summit, this time in Belgrade.

Furthermore, it became clear that the Bulgarian presidency during the first six months of 2018 and the Romanian one of 2019 as well the first six months of that year will be a joint “Balkan” presidency in the EU. Apart from it, they said ‘yes’ to a Summit between the EU and Western Balkans during the Bulgarian presidency.

The main priority for Greece, Bulgaria and Romania is the accession of countries belonging to the Western Balkans to the EU. Nevertheless, Alexis Tsipras expressed his wish to preserve the conditionality, a vital factor that could safeguard a visionary policy, security and stability in the wider region.

Regarding infrastructure -road, rail and energy networks- the Bulgarian PM stressed the need for new investments saying this could prove a great opportunity for investors themselves, making an open invitation to all sides interested in the field.

The four leaders said their cooperation is in no way of a competitive nature. Quite the contrary, they all see it as a cooperation of peace. Most importantly, the participation of three EU member states in the Summit, enhanced the possibility for common European financing. Tsipras and Borissov agreed on making a formal request to the Comission and a separate one addressed to Jean-Claude Juncker specifically for the financing of the railway corridor linking Thessaloniki with Varna. This joint effort will lead towards common proposals to the EU funds so that they support the realisation of infrastructure projects in the wider Balkan region…

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