Bulgarian Parliament ratifies SAA
17. July 2010. | 10:32 15:13
The Bulgarian National Assembly ratified Friday the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their member states and the Republic of Serbia.
The Bulgarian Parliament has ratified the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia.
The agreement is Serbia’s first step towards EU membership, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said, adding the highest strategic priority is to have West Balkan region admitted to the EU.
Last week, the Bulgarian government proposed that the parliament should ratify the SAA, which was signed in 2008.
A month ago, the EU Council of Ministers gave a green light for the ratification process. Bulgaria has been the third EU state to ratify the SAA. Previously, Spain and Malta did so.
"This agreement is Serbia's fragile bridge to the EU," Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said as he urged the MPs to support the document by consensus.
He also said that the entry into force of the agreement completes the page of the ten-year history of transition after the ouster of the Milosevic regime. "Over these years, Serbia has achieved significant progress in reforms and started building a spirit based on standards and values that we all share."
In Mladenov's words, the EU integration of Bulgaria's neighbour is in the best interest of bilateral relations and stability in the region. "To preclude disappointment, pessimism and mistrust, Bulgaria must give a clear signal that all out neighbours in the Western Balkans will be part of the EU when they meet the membership conditions."
Ataka leader Volen Siderov said it would be wrong if Bulgaria backed fully and unconditionally Serbia's European integration. He suggested that a remark be added to the agreement to introduce a requirement for respecting the rights of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia.
He was adamant that Serbian citizens with Bulgarian self-awareness are victims of discrimination.
Meglena Plougchieva (Coalition of Bulgaria) criticized "the nationalistic approach" of the Ataka leader and pledged her group's support for the agreement. She said it "opens up a big European opportunity for Serbia and prospects for bilateral relations".
"Let is remove borders instead of building barriers," said Monika Panayotova (GERB).
Yunal Lyutvi (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) said it was not all the same for Bulgaria which road Serbia will go. "We will happily support the agreement."
Assen Agov (Blue Coalition) said Serbia's EU integration alone can guarantee the rights of the Bulgarians in Eastern Serbia and security in bilateral relations.
He added that the question of Kosovo should not be remain untackled as Serbia refuses to recognize its independence, and warned that it is a "greeding ground for insecurity at the Bulgarian border". He said his Coalition would support the agreement but would watch carefully its fulfillment by Serbia.