SOFIA – The enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkans and the linking of the countries of the region is a priority of the Bulgarian EU presidency, and the officials agreed that Montenegro as the leader of the integration process is an excellent example of achieving standards on the road towards the EU, it was assessed during the visit of Minister of European Affairs of Montenegro Aleksandar Andrija Pejović to Sofia.
At the meeting with Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU Lilyana Pavlova, Pejović thanked for Bulgaria’s support to Montenegro’s progress in the negotiating process. He stressed that restoring enlargement policy among the priorities of EU presidency represents a significant contribution to intensifying the reform processes in the Western Balkan countries.
Minister Pejović informed his interlocutor with Montenegro’s intention to continue with the good negotiations dynamics during the Bulgarian EU presidency and to open the remaining three chapters in the negotiating process during this year. In that context, he underlined the Government’s strong commitment and determination to finalise the commitments undertaken, pointing out that the fundamental reforms and the quality of preparations for the membership are more important than the speed of accession to the Union.
Pavlova emphasised the EU’s commitment to the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans, as confirmed by the Programme of Priorities for the first half of 2018. She highlighted that during the EU accession, the focus should not only be on the negotiation process and the opening of the chapters, but also on concrete infrastructure and energy projects from which the citizens will benefit and will bring closer the Western Balkans to the Union and European standards in all areas.
During his visit to Sofia, Pejović also spoke with Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva, who noted Bulgaria’s interest to provide expert and technical support in several chapters and expressed the expectation that Montenegro, with the continuation of the reforms, will be ready to join the European family soon.
She said that Bulgaria would be committed to communicating with the countries of the region during the six-month presidency in order to exchange experiences and accelerate their EU integration.
At the meeting with Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs in the Bulgarian Parliament Kristian Vigenin, the officials expressed the expectation that the continuation of the reforms and the excellent results achieved by Montenegro in the negotiation process will ensure that our country becomes the next EU member. As pointed out, Montenegro will have the support of Bulgaria in all needed areas. Opinions were also exchanged regarding the use of EU structural and cohesion funds as well as pre-accession support.
Pejović also had meetings with Chief of Office of the Prime Minister Rumyana Bachvarova and President of the Pan-European Union Gergana Pasi, and delivered a lecture at the Diplomatic Academy of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Montenegro’s progress towards EU membership and expectations from the Bulgarian Presidency.
Montenegrin Ambassador to Sofia Snežana Radović and Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Montenegro Mladen Chervenyakov also attended the meetings.