BTA News

President Radev: Bulgaria Supports Montenegro’s European Integration

Bulgaria supports Montenegro’s European integration technically and expertly, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said on Monday after a meeting with Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic. He added that Bulgaria will work more closely for the development of bilateral cooperation and for the European integration of the entire Western Balkans region.

Bulgaria has always supported Montenegro in its aspirations for rapid integration and EU membership, Radev said. Compared to all the other countries in the region, Montenegro is very advanced and grounds exist for accelerating the process, according to a European Commission report on the interim indicators. Montenegrin President Yakov Milatovic thanked Bulgaria for its support and noted that Montenegro’s goal is to become the 28th EU member state by 2028.

In Radev’s words, the EU candidate countries should rely on their own merits and deep reforms to meet the membership criteria and the process to be sustainable and irreversible.

The President noted that Bulgaria and Montenegro share common values, goals and opportunities in NATO. Montenegro has sent a contingent to the multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria with Italy as a framework country. The battlegroup has been in Bulgaria for about a year, and Radev invited the Montenegrin president to visit the Bulgarian Novo Selo training ground to express their gratitude to NATO’s eastern flank.

Responding to a question by a Montenegrin journalist whether Bulgaria would block Serbia’s EU membership because of the situation of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia, President Radev said that Bulgaria assesses the progress of each EU candidate country depending on its compliance with the Copenhagen criteria, the rights of different ethnic communities. “For us the main criterion will be the state of the Bulgarian minority in each country, the ability of this minority to defend its national identity, to freely express its culture, language, traditions and to have the appropriate conditions for economic and social development in the region where it lives,” Radev said.

Earlier on Monday, President Rumen Radev and his wife Desislava Radeva were welcomed with an official ceremony by Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic and his wife Milena Milatovic at the Blue Palace in the city of Cetinje, the historical and cultural capital of Montenegro. The two Presidents held a one-on-one meeting and led the plenary talks between the official delegations of Bulgaria and Montenegro. The also discussed cooperation in the field of information technology, education and science, as well as the possibility of opening flights between Sofia and Podgorica and between the resort cities of Tivat and Varna.

Within the framework of the visit, the Bulgarian President will hold meetings in Podgorica with the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milojko Spajic and the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Andrija Mandic.