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VISIT TO BULGARIA

A truly European  FMA delegation composed of 19 former MEPs from ten EU countries and five European political families (EPP-ED, Socialists, ECR, Liberals and Greens), led by the FMA Board member Brigitte Langenhagen, visited Bulgaria from 3 to 5 June on the occasion of the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The National Assembly of Bulgaria, in co-operation with FMA, put together an excellent programme aimed at evaluating progress towards achievements of the EU Presidency. It included official meetings with Parliament and government’s representatives, a visit to the Georgi Rakovski Military Academy as well as well as a cultural visit to Plovdiv, European capital of culture 2019.

It emerged clearly from these meetings that the Western Balkans are a top priority of this Presidency, together with the necessity to provide a European prospect for the whole region by further improving the connectivity (transport, communications, energy, education, and digital). EU membership is considered a key factor to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans that for centuries have been an example of interreligious coexistence and suffered from atrocious wars and widespread violence in the 1990s. It was noted that if the EU wants to be a global player, Western Balkans need to join the EU sooner or later. Bulgaria will continue its efforts under the Austrian and Romanian EU Presidencies.

A recurrent issue was also the adoption of the EU Multiannual framework with a strong accent on the need to continue providing EU assistance for the social policy. The impact of Brexit on the long-term EU budget was also discussed.

It was reaffirmed that Bulgaria is ready and meet all requirements to access the Schengen Area  which would allow to better control the borders. The Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Iliana Iotova concluded the series of meetings by urging that substantial reforms of the EU project be undertaken, in particular how the EU Institutions work and the policies addressed. She was most concerned about the future EU budget and human rights which see the EU take a step back. Please find here the speech of Monika Panayotova, Deputy-Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018.

The National Assembly organised an exceptional cultural visit to Plovdiv including an outstanding welcome recital by three talented soloists of the State Opera of Plodviv conducted by the Artistic Director Luciano Di Martino. The performance took place in the superb Museum Hall of the Philippolis Art Center followed by a dinner during which the delegation’s members exchanged their views and reflections in a relaxed atmosphere.

The programme was concluded by a visit to the Military Academy with a stimulating keynote speech delivered by the eminent FMA member Henrik Lax who participated in many successful FMA “EP to Campus programme”. He completely caught the attention of an audience composed of officers and civilian students. Mr Lax concluded his articulated speech on “The European Union: Expectations and Challenges” by reminding that “Both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are forcefully engaged in building up national narratives seriously challenging the values and interests of the EU”. He then wondered whether there “will be solidarity and courage enough among the leaders of the Member States to confront their citizens with the true threats to our social order and the tough measures required to address them”. We encourage you reading his complete speech available on the FMA website . Insightful reflections and analyses on this visit by the delegation’s members will be published in the September Bulletin. Photos of the visit are available here.


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Dossier Bulgaria EN (8 Mb)
List of participants (463 kb)
Programme EN (418 kb)
Speech Henrik Lax (66 kb)
Speech Monika PANAYOTOVA (561 kb)