Daniel Mitov, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Francisco de Borja Lasheras, Associate director, ECFR Madrid
Vessela Tcherneva, Head of ECFR Sofia Office
Bulgaria was among the EU member states that actively participated in the review process of the EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy. It insisted that the Western Balkans should receive their spot as a priority region for the EU and that they should be part of the community policies that affect them directly, such as energy and security.
The refugee push from North Africa and the Middle East is a European problem, to which only common European policies would be the answer. The last couple of months proved that this answer goes through support for the neighbouring countries, such as the Western Balkans, to which the EU is a key partner. The refugee flow through the Balkans again brought to the surface institutional instabilities, gaps in the social cohesion and economic problems of these countries and reminded for smouldering ethnic conflicts and intense neighbouring relations.
For the EU to integrate the Western Balkans countries in these processes, it should make new efforts for their attraction and reformation. This became clear even during the meeting with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini with experts from Southeast Europe in July 2015 in Sofia. Including the Balkan countries in different policies and decision making processes in the EU that directly affect them, is one possible solution to this problem.