Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and the leaders of the Western Balkans discussed at a meeting in Sofia the prospects for the region and the opportunities for infrastructure and digital connectivity. This meeting was also the final one from the Balkan tour of the Commission President, which began late last week.
Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated the Bulgarian Prime Minister on the successful conduction of the Presidency of the EU Council. “Bulgaria impresses us with the quality of its work. Bulgarians can be proud of the way their leaders conduct their Presidency,” he said.
Prime Minister Borissov emphasized that Bulgaria and the countries from the Western Balkans rely heavily on EC assistance. He noted that all capitals in the Balkans are actively working to improve connectivity and specified that at the meetings the interests of Romania and Greece are also represented, as the projects under discussion are related to infrastructure in these countries as well.
Borissov said that before the summit in Sofia in May all countries should present thoroughly developed projects for the construction of priority infrastructure. According to him, it is then that funding will be discussed, with corridors 4, 8 and 10, and the Highway of Peace being the priority, but also with a view to the development of energy and gas connectivity.
Regarding the EU membership of Western Balkan countries, Juncker mentioned that this could happen from 2025 onwards only if the criteria are fulfilled. “At this stage, none of these countries meets all the conditions, although huge progress has been made,” Juncker added. He underlined the need to effectively counteract organized crime and corruption, but also to resolve bilateral conflicts. “All countries wishing to join the EU must have resolved all bilateral territorial issues before joining the Community,” the President of the Commission said.
“With this tour, Juncker made the commitment that more will be heard about the countries of the Western Balkans, it is up to us all to be active,” said Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, stressing that the common goal is to achieve peace and stability in the region.
The Delegation of the President of the European Commission included the Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood policy and the Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.