The President Told the Bulgarian Diplomats: the EU is Strong when the Voice of Each Member State on its Governance and Decision making is Heard
The EU is strong only when the voice of each member state on its governance and decision making is heard. Therefore the challenges the Bulgarian diplomacy is facing require consolidation, coordination and extremely good communication. This is what President Rumen Radev told the heads of the Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad. The Head of State took part in the annual meeting of the Ambassadors of the Republic of Bulgaria and congratulated them on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the Bulgarian diplomatic service.
“For 140 years the Bulgarian diplomacy has defended the national interest and has contributed to the state’s prosperity,” the President said and thanked our diplomats for continuing to whole-heartedly work for Bulgaria.
The EU’s ability to make prompt and adequate decisions was highlighted by the Head of State as the major challenge the Union is facing. In Rumen Radev’s words, compared to the other strategic players in the world – the US, Russia and China, the EU is lagging behind in terms of the speed of decision making. “While speed in the contemporary world means strength,” the President said and called on all diplomats to keep track of the proposals made by leading EU member states for changing the mechanism of work of the Foreign Affairs Council, for pursuing a more efficient foreign policy and for establishing a European Security Council, in which a limited number of states will participate. They should further keep track of the proposals with regard to the criteria for specifying these countries and their rotation.
The President recalled the EU debate on forming a European army, which should duplicate NATO and in his words, the European Defense Fund provides a “golden opportunity” for Bulgaria not only to absorb funds, but also to fully integrate our defense industry and science in the European projects in the defense sphere. EU member states are already pooling efforts to produce a joint European fighter and other military equipment.
Rumen Radev further called on for more efficiently using the European instruments such as the Danube strategy to promote the development of the Bulgarian economy and particularly to “restore the development ” of north Bulgaria. The President recalled the results of the trilateral meeting, which was held on his initiative in May 2018 in Ruse, with the Heads of State of Austria and Romania and at which a common stance was voiced to strengthen the European investments in the Danube river region. The Head of State added that without an education, scientific and technological connectivity no real economic and social cohesion between East and West Europe can be achieved and he once again called for joint efforts of the countries from the region to establish an International Institute for Sustainable Technologies.
Bulgaria is a factor of stability in the Southeast European region, Rumen Radev said and highlighted our country’s contribution to the European prospects of our neighbors from the Western Balkans and to the development of the partnership with the Republic of Turkey. “Turkey is our neighbor, a big trade partner and ally and the events unfolding in Turkey have an impact on the business, the social environment in Bulgaria and on the security environment,” the President commented. The Head of State reiterated the need for a more efficient European policy vis-à-vis migration and the prevention of humanitarian crises.
Rumen Radev highly appreciated the positive change in the bilateral relations with the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) in the past years. The bilateral agreement for friendship and good neighborliness opened the door for our southeast neighbor to NATO and the EU and Bulgaria should continue to be among the most active supporters of its European integration. “However, it should be clear that our support is not unconditional and unreserved,” the President added and called for honesty in the bilateral dialogue and the clear drawing of a “red line” regarding the historical facts and the education in history, books, publishing houses and the media, so that all issues that set us apart could be settled and could start uniting us. Given that the RNM is aspiring to join the EU, our relations will be even cleaner and clearer if the European criteria for good neighborliness are met and the bilateral friendship agreement is also laid down in the documents for the RNM’s EU accession.
The Head of State told the diplomats that he is not against the F-16 fighter and he has not commented concrete aircraft so far. “However, we should not simply buy aircraft from our strategic partner, but this aircraft should also have capabilities,” Rumen Radev emphasized. In his words, the price we have currently negotiated will considerably increase in the near future, and the government has been pressured both by the high price for our society and also by the fact that we should get closer to the Maastricht criteria for budget deficit with respect to the stated intention of Bulgaria’s accession to the Euro-zone. The Head of State called for an honest attitude to the Bulgarian taxpayers and no speculations should be made with regard to the relations with the US. “These are all domestic problems that the country is facing – they are a matter of ambitions, competence, real results. And if someone had to insist on something, this should have been to observe the financial framework and… the assumed commitments for deferred payment, industrial cooperation, full package and full armament – nothing is left of these things,” Rumen Radev emphasized.
The Head of State highlighted the positive results of his visit to the Russian Federation and the “revival” of the bilateral dialogue. “Although we have long been talking about pragmatism, currently we are stepping on a pragmatic basis,” Rumen Radev said. The President also recalled the issue raised by him at the meeting with President Vladimir Putin about the reduction of the price of the gas supplies from Russia to Bulgaria, which should be in line with the changes in “the gas map of Europe”.
Rumen Radev called on the Bulgarian government to take the maximum advantage also of the declaration for strategic partnership, for attracting real investments and deepening the partnership in the sphere of tourism between Bulgaria and the People’s Republic of China, which was adopted during his visit to China.
“High expectations are pinned to the Bulgarian diplomat,” the President further said and called on the Bulgarian ambassadors to act in compliance with article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, according to which the major foreign policy goals are national security and the country’s independence, the prosperity and the basic rights and freedoms of the Bulgarian citizens, and also the assistance to establish a fair international order.
The Bulgarian ambassador today is Bulgaria’s person who represents the state in a specific country with his conduct, manners, linguistic competence and is further the country’s main advertising agent, Rumen Radev added. The President called for adapting to the new situation in which big Bulgarian ethnic communities live in other countries. They need not only administrative servicing, but also support for preserving the Bulgarian language and their national identity. “There is a huge discrepancy between the fact that Bulgarians have been emigrating abroad in the past decades and the municipalities are being deserted. However, the administration is still in place and is even expanded in some places yet there is no increase in the staffing levels of the Bulgarian missions abroad. On the contrary, there is downsizing,” the President said and emphasized that he will support the efforts to fill in the vacancies in the Bulgaria embassies abroad.
The Head of State also said there should be no rush to sell the state-owned properties of the Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad as the country will need them in the future.