National Assembly President Gerdjikov is taking part in the 16^th Meeting of the President of the European Parliament with the Presidents of the Parliaments of the Countries Participating in the Enlargement Process
National Assembly President Gerdjikov is taking part in the 16th Meeting of the President of the European Parliament with the Presidents of the Parliaments of the Countries Participating in the Enlargement Process 4 February 2004, Budapest
National Assembly President Prof. Ognian Gerdjikov and the Chairman of the European Integration Committee Daniel Valchev are taking part in the 16th meeting of the President of the European Parliament with the Presidents of the Parliaments of the countries participating in the Enlargement process in Budapest.
On the agenda today are the following subjects under discussion:
- "The European Union on the eve of Enlargement" - National Assembly
President Gerdjikov made statement.*//*
- "Parliamentary Cooperation between the Enlarged Union and the countries of the Western Balkans /Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro/" - Daniel Valchev made statement.
In his statement, National Assembly President Prof. Ognian Gerdjikov underlined that the meeting is held on the eve of launch of the largest expansion of the European Union, called upon to make the artificial division of Europe from the time of the Cold War a thing of the past. The statement further says:
"In only three months, on May 1st 2004, the first ten countries participating in this process will cross the threshold of the European Union. May their membership in the Union bring a lot of success and well-being to their peoples. Integral parts of this fifth enlargement of the EU are Bulgaria and Romania whose accession is expected in January 2007. Hope for the further success of the enlargement is stirred up both by the prospects for the opening of Turkey's accession negotiations at the end of the year and by the presence here at this meeting of representatives of the five Western Balkan countries whose European future we welcome.
Bulgaria is especially satisfied with the decision of the Brussels European Council held in December outlining a concrete time framework for Bulgaria's EU accession. Bulgaria has received a clear commitment from the EU for a completion of the negotiations in 2004, for a signing of the accession treaty as early as possible in 2005 and for full membership by January 2007. We appreciate highly the fact that during the negotiations our country will be judged on the basis of its own progress
The progress achieved as well as the areas that need additional effort for compliance with the membership criteria have been objectively noted in the Regular Report of the European Commission for 2003. We are determined to carry out the necessary work so that the EU accession negotiations are completed in the first half of 2004, no later than the end of the mandate of the European Commission. This is also the overarching idea of the legislative work of the National Assembly - the idea of our preparation for the EU and our upcoming NATO accession.
For the successful completion of the negotiations in 2004, which have witnessed the temporary closing of 26 out of the 31 negotiating chapters, we rely on the support of the Irish presidency which gives due priority to the enlargement of the EU. We appreciate highly the support of the European Parliament which at this stage has also been demonstrated in the discussions on the draft resolution on Bulgaria's progress to accession.
Parallel to our preparation for EU membership, Bulgaria has been following the development of the Intergovernmental Conference on the Constitutional Treaty closely and with a certain level of concern. We continue to support the efforts for the successful and forthcoming adoption of the Constitution in keeping with the draft of the Convention and for the seeking of compromises which will not tip the overall balance. It will be in our interest that the EU builds structures which can serve a politically united Europe. This Europe should be strong and united on the international scene avoiding anything that could cause new divisions.
We are optimistic about the future work of the IGC. We are convinced that the year 2004 will be able to remain in history as the year of the adoption of the EU Constitution and of the restoration of the unity of Europe."
The outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference is to be discussed and a joint statement is to be adopted.
A meeting with the President of the Republic of Hungary is scheduled.
Prof. Gerdjikov and Mr. Valchev return back on 5 February at 15.25 hrs, Sofia Airport, Government Lounge.