The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union was launched with a ceremony at the National Theater “Ivan Vazov” in Sofia. Formal guests at the opening were the Presidents of the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission - Antonio Tajani, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov pointed out that Bulgaria is taking over the rotating presidency at a time when worrying issues are on the agenda of the Union. In his speech during the ceremony he noted that over the next six months, many developments will commence, will unfold, and will be completed in Europe. Decisions should be taken on issues, such as the Brexit negotiations, the cohesion and agricultural policies, intra-EU disputes, and relations with neighboring countries, the topic of the Western Balkans, cyber security, tackling the migration crisis. “Bulgaria will be a balancing factor and will seek consensus,” Borissov underlined. “I believe we will do something good both for Bulgaria and Europe during a successful Presidency of the EU Council,” he added.
In a speech in Bulgarian, European Council President Donald Tusk highlighted the work, courage, and determination of the Bulgarians. “As a Pole, I understand very well how much work, courage, and determination it costed you, the Bulgarians, to achieve this European success for your homeland. Nobody has given you anything as a gift, you are the creators of this historical turn, of these “newer, newer beauties.” The younger generations probably relate the theater in which we find ourselves, rather with the famous actor Zahari Baharov and his role in the prominent series “Game of Thrones”, rather than with Vazov's poetry. But the history of the Balkans is more dramatic than the “Game of Thrones” scenario, though there are no dragons in it. We all would like the present and the future of the Balkans to bear less resemblance with the scenarios of dramatic films. Stability, security, prosperity – this is what people of this region deserve. And the European Union exists to make this scenario a reality,” Tusk said. He expressed admiration for the Western Balkans as a priority of the Bulgarian Presidency and added: “Who else, if not you, the descendants of Spartacus, the heirs of the oldest state in Europe, you who have never lost a flag in a battle - who else but you could be successful at this important and extremely difficult task to renew the European perspective for the whole region.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the important role of Bulgaria in the next six months. “Bulgaria is leading Europe from tonight on. Bulgaria is a country that I particularly like. Your place is in Europe, in Schengen, and in the Euro area, and we cooperate with you on these issues,” Juncker said. The President of the European Commission stressed that the Commission is on the Bulgarian side and welcomes the motto of the Bulgarian Presidency - "United we stand strong".