President Rumen Radev in Belgrade: The Historical Reconciliation in the Balkans Should be Achieved in the Name of the Common European Future of Our Region
The historical reconciliation on which united Europe was founded must find its place in the Balkans, too. Defending the European prospects in the region requires courage, constructivism, turning our backs to the language of hate, long-lasting good-neighborliness and safeguarding the rights of the national minorities. This is what Head of State Rumen Radev said at a joint news conference with the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic.
Head of State Rumen Radev is on a two-day official visit in the Republic of Serbia at the invitation of his counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.
Serbia’s European integration, the bilateral cooperation and raising the standard of living of the Bulgarian national minority were the leading topics discussed at the meeting between the two Presidents.
“We can say today that in Bulgarian-Serbian relations the positive processes dominate, and we are decided to work together to make this trend irreversible. The language of hate and the language of disunity in the Balkans should remain in the past and must give way to reconciliation and cooperation,” the Bulgarian Head of State said. He identified the establishment of good-neighborly relations in the region as a historical chance which will guarantee the European integration in the Balkans and will show that we have learnt the lessons of the past.
Rumen Radev voiced our country’s readiness to continue to support Serbia in its attempt to become an EU member state. “Serbia’s European prospects was the leading topic of our meeting and Serbia can rely on our support in the future – we should work together for the Balkans’ prospects in the European Union. This is the only way to ensure real stability and prosperity,” the President addressed Aleksandar Vucic. In the Bulgarian President’s words, the timeframe for Serbia’s EU accession set by the European Commission by 2025 is an ambitious but achievable target date and it requires mobilization and will for reforms in the sphere of the country’s political, economic and public life.
The two Presidents voiced their contentment with the growth of the two-way trade topping one billion euro annually and also with the increased exchange in the sphere of tourism.
The joint news conference of the two Presidents highlighted the importance of the joint infrastructure projects that connect Bulgaria and Serbia – the completion of the Belgrade-Sofia motorway, the electrification of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia railway, the construction of the gas interconnector. “Speaking about connectivity, we should adopt a comprehensive approach,” Head of State Rumen Radev said and called for working more actively in the sphere of river tourism and trade and in the sphere of the joint projects on cross-border cooperation.
Rumen Radev identified Serbia’s joining the common European space as a key priority. “Bulgaria and Romania officially invited Serbia to join the functional block airspace – an important goal which is in line with our countries’ strategic interests in terms of safety and the efficiency of the air transport and the Republic of Serbia’s EU integration,” the Bulgarian President said. Rumen Radev called for opening a new border check-point at the border between Serbia and Bulgaria.
During the second day of his visit, President Rumen Radev, together with his Serbian counterpart, will hold a first of its kind meeting with the Bulgarian minority in Dimitrovgrad. “We expect that this national minority of ours will feel stronger support from the Serbian State, will feel sooner in its everyday life the positive changes in Serbian legislation concerning national minorities,” Rumen Radev said and called for a constructive dialogue and concrete actions to ensure access of the Bulgarian minority to healthcare. The opportunity to improve the cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of education and also regarding our compatriots’ instruction in Bulgarian in Serbia was also discussed. A mutual readiness was voiced to sign concrete agreements which will regulate the cooperation in these spheres.
President Aleksandar Vucic confirmed Serbia’s readiness to take practical actions to develop the trans-border region and to ensure funding of the Bulgarian language media for the Bulgarian minority. The Serbian Head of State highlighted the excellent bilateral dialogue between Bulgaria and Serbia which produces practical results in trade and the growth of tourism. “These achievements are particularly important because they bring closer together our two peoples. It is essential for us to look towards the future, not towards the past, to pay tribute to our dead heroes together and open a new page,” Head of State Aleksandar Vucic further said.
Earlier the Head of State was welcomed with an official ceremony in front of the Palace of Serbia by his counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in the capital Belgrade.
During the first day of his visit, the Bulgarian Head of State also held a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and National Assembly President Maja Gojkovic.
Rumen Radev will also lay a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in the Avala neighborhood in Belgrade.
During the second day of the visit the two Heads of State will lay wreaths at the Neshkov Vruh monument of Bulgarian and Serbian soldiers killed during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War.
Head of State Rumen Radev’s official delegation includes the Rector of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski Anastas Gerdzhikov, the Head of Military Medical Academy Brigadier-general prof. Dr. Ventsislav Mutafchijski and Director General of the Bulgarian Air Traffic Services Authority Georgi Peev, who will hold talks with their Serbian counterparts in Belgrade.