Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said Thursday that Brussels needed to offer a clear message on future EU membership to the countries of the Western Balkans in order to preserve stability in the region.
“The Western Balkans want a European perspective…one that will guarantee the EU’s influence in the region,” said Borissov, during his address to MEPs while addressing Bulgaria’s priorities during its six-month turn in the rotating Presidency of the Council of EU ministers.
Borrisov was quick to point out that the EU has a vested interest in bringing the historically volatile region ever closer to Europe in order to guarantee peace throughout Europe.
“The Balkans have a very fragile structure and if it starts to shake all of Europe will come down,” Borrisov added.
“One bullet and the situation changes radically”
Borissov’s comments came only a day after controversial Kosovo Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic was gunned down on a street in Mitrovica, a troubled northern town in Kosovo that is divided between Serbian and Albanian communities.
“You saw what happened yesterday. One bullet and the situation changes radically,” noted Borissov.
Tuesday’s assassination led Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to suspend EU facilitated dialogue between his country and Kosovo aimed at normalizing relations between the two neighbours after Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence in 2008.
Borissov pointed to Bulgaria’s strong economic growth, near 4% GDP, and relatively low 6% unemployment as examples of successful EU integration and support for countries that once made up the Cold War-era Eastern Bloc.
“These results have been achieved, above all. thanks to EU aid and community funds. All of Eastern Europe benefits from them.”
Borissov faces no-confidence vote on corruption
On the member state’s internal corruption issues, Borissov failed to mention the topic during his address.
Political tensions remain strong in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia and the country’s main opposition party filed a no-confidence motion against Borissov’s centre-right government on Wednesday over its lack of progress in fighting corruption.
Borissov’s GERB party and junior coalition partner, the nationalist United Patriots, have 133 votes along with the populist Will party. The Socialist Party is expected to fall 41 votes short of the number it needs to topple the coalition in the 240-seat parliament.