BULGARIAN PM SIMEON VIEWS REGIONAL SECURITY, ECONOMIC PROGRESS AT SOFIA FORUM Financial_Times - 2003/9/5
Turning Southeast Europe into a zone of lasting stability will boost security for the whole of Europe, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said at a regional forum here Friday (5 September).
The two-day forum is entitled Shaping a Common Security Agenda For Southeast Europe: New Approaches and Shared Responsibilities, and is organized by the Sofia Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD).
According to the Bulgarian Government leader, successful solution to the security issue is a responsibility that each country in the region has for itself. He warned that the region is still faced with risks to security: the slow progress of democratic reforms, the smuggling of people, drugs and arms, and organized crime, and dealing with them is possible only with the joint efforts of the countries in the region and strong partners. This is why it is important that the international community keeps its presence in the western Balkans, said Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Economic progress is a major security booster and this is why the stepped up implementation of regional infrastructure projects is a priority, the speaker said. Among the important projects are the construction of European Corridor IV and VIII, of new border check points, of the Danubian bridge at Vidin-Calafat and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
According to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Southeast Europe has become an inseparable part of united Europe and the accomplishment of Bulgaria's two top foreign policy priorities - membership in NATO and the EU, will be a strong proof of that.
The prime minister took the floor at the Boyana conference following two other VIP speakers, NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson and Stability Pact Special Coordinator Erhard Busek. Other participants in the forum are Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov, Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov and six defence ministers of the Balkan region.
The conference is part of a series of events organized by CSD with the purpose of addressing security issues. Three previous conferences held in March, June and November 2002, examined the threat posed by organized crime and corruption to the national security in the region by streamlining the anticorruption strategies and public-private cooperation approach in that area.