In an interview for Banja Luka-based daily Glas Srpske, Minister in charge of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018 Lilyana Pavlova said that stability of the Western Balkans was of key importance for the entire Europe.
“We are convinced that prosperity and stability of the EU are directly linked to stability and prosperity of our neighbors, including the Western Balkans. For the Western Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is no reasonable alternative to EU integration”, said Pavlova.
Commenting on priorities of Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, Pavlova said that Bulgaria wanted to reaffirm its commitment to European prospect of the Western Balkan countries.
“The EU has to offer European prospect to Western Balkan countries because otherwise some other global powers would establish influence in the region. Western Balkans as a part of the EU fills potential security gap. Today’s investment into peace and prevention would eventually turn out to be less expensive than absorption of costs of possible conflict in the future. It is cheaper for us to fulfil promises than to break them”, she explained.
Minister Pavlova added that Bulgaria would work on promoting peace, security and prosperity of the region. “We will work on improvement of regional cooperation and good neighborly relations”, she said. “We do not want to create false expectations. The EU enlargement remains a process based on rules, including strict conditions for accession, and we want to encourage and support reforms that would bring the countries in the region closer to the Union”.
Commenting on problems Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to resolve on country’s EU path, Pavlova said that BiH had to harmonize the Constitution with the European Convention on Human Rights, on the basis of the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in ‘Sejdic-Finci vs. BiH’ case, carry out the reform of public administration, increase responsibility, integrity and independence of judiciary, and carry out the reform of judicial sector.
As for the European Commission’s Questionnaire, Pavlova said that the European Commission would carefully analyze answers from BiH and probably send another batch of questions, the aim of which would be to clarify some things.
“At the same time, the European Commission is sending experts to potential candidate countries, and they are tasked with carrying out direct revision of certain fields”, Pavlova said, adding that as soon as it gathered all the required information, the EC would prepare an opinion about country’s EU membership application.