The perspective for the Western Balkans, protection of the EU borders, and improving the economic relations between Bulgaria and Italy were in the focus of the official visit by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to Rome on invitation by the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. The two discussed the bilateral relations, as well as their partnership within the EU.
Gentiloni said that on the basis of the good economic relations, more investments in Bulgaria can be achieved and pointed out that, as member states of the EU, Bulgaria and Italy have common geopolitical interests. He explicitly underlined that Bulgaria takes over the Presidency of the EU at a difficult and important moment for the Union, whereby Prime Minister Borissov can play a very useful role. “The EU is faced by Brexit and we will have to show our unity,” said the Italian Prime Minister.
Paolo Gentiloni noted that the positions of the EU and the member states on migration crisis management were also discussed and expressed high appreciation for the Bulgarian efforts in dealing with the pressure on the EU external borders, despite not being part of the Schengen Area, where it deserves to be.
He also added that together with Prime Minister Borissov they have a common position on the development of the EU relations with the Western Balkan countries. Highlighting the Bulgarian expertise on the region and the upcoming EU-Western Balkans summit in May, he expressed his expectation for progress in the process of European integration.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov reminded that for the first time the topic of the perspective for the Western Balkans was put in front of European leaders in Trieste in July during the meeting of the countries from the Berlin Process. He called for taking maximum advantage of the momentum created by the discussions on the topic back then. “Until the summit in May 2018, we have a lot of work to do on the topic of the Western Balkans, but we can start immediately with the infrastructure in the region – Corridor No 8, connectivity through railways and highways, which creates new opportunities for the business. All of us that want to guarantee the security of the Balkans must start from here, instead of setting grand goals,” commented Boyko Borissov.
He pointed out that the current policy in respect to migration cannot continue and European diplomacy is subject to criticism in this respect. “Yesterday in Sochi, Putin and Erdogan were deciding on the future of Syria – where are the European politicians? We cannot only endure the crises that are not created by us and take over only the negatives. The right way to go is closing the external borders and providing support for frontline countries. All those that are running from war will receive help, because we are a humane society. But they should all enter in a legal manner”, said Borissov.