site.btaMontenegrin President on Official Visit to Bulgaria
Milo Djukanovic, President of Montenegro, paid an official visit to Bulgaria Monday on the invitation of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. Current issues on the regional agenda, the European perspective of the Western Balkans, security and energy, were in the focus of the visit.
The guest was welcomed with an official ceremony in Sofia on February 20, after which the two Presidents held a face-to-face meeting and chaired plenary talks between the official delegations of the two countries.
Radev said at the meeting with Djukanovic, as quoted by his Press Secretariat, that Montenegro is the most advanced in the process of EU integration among the countries of the Western Balkans and Bulgaria will continue to support it so that Montenegro is the next country in the region to join the EU. Radev stressed that each of the countries in the Western Balkans, which has declared ambitions to join the EU, should respect its commitments and the criteria established in the EU, the principles of good neighbourliness and respect for human rights. He expressed hope that Montenegro will continue to set a positive example for the whole region by implementing the necessary reforms in the process of European integration.
Djukanovic thanked for Bulgaria's support for his country's European integration. "It is important to be supported by those who know us best", the guest said pointing out the significant role of Bulgaria within the EU for the progress of his country on the path to full membership in the Union. In his words, European integration has been a top priority for Montenegro since the restoration of its independence in 2006 and there is no alternative to the European path as a factor for its modernization and guaranteeing its security.
The Bulgarian Head of State outlined the improvement of transport connectivity as a key factor for relations between the two countries, which could contribute to deeper cooperation in all other areas of bilateral interest. In his words, Bulgaria and Montenegro have not yet exploited all opportunities, including European instruments and mechanisms, so that they could rely on much faster connectivity between the two countries by land and by air. The implementation of the project for Transport Corridor VIII is a top priority and should be accelerated, is the common position of both countries.
Cooperation in the field of education was also among the topics of discussion between Radev and Djukanovic. Montenegro and Bulgaria are actively working on the initiative for the establishment of a South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST) with the support of CERN, that would create very important new possibilities in the fields of education, science and medicine.
The two Presidents highlighted the good cooperation between Bulgaria and Montenegro within the framework of their membership in the NATO alliance, including the participation of Montenegrin servicemen in the Multinational Battle Group on Bulgarian territory.
The two Presidents expressed support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemned the Russian aggression. They urged diplomatic efforts to end the war as soon as possible as it continues to take new casualties and generates a growing security risk in Europe with negative consequences for the economy, social and energy systems of European countries.
Radev and Djukanovic highlighted the potential of the bilateral economic partnership in the manufacturing of components for the automotive industry, in education, science and culture.
President Djukanovic meets PM Donev
The guest also met with Bulgaria's caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev. They discussed ways to deepen bilateral relations, Montenegro's European perspective and issues of current importance on the regional agenda, the Government Information Service reported.
Donev reaffirmed Bulgaria's support for Montenegro on its path to EU membership. He said the process of EU enlargement has become a stabilizing factor in the region and a strong incentive to make key reforms. He pointed to the importance of regional cooperation within existing formats and initiatives, which he described as essential for achieving lasting security, stability and prosperity in Southeast Europe. In this context, Donev congratulated Podgorica on its performance as current holder of the Chairmanship-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process and its ambitious programme.
He also underscored the tradition of friendly relations between Bulgaria and Montenegro, which are a sound basis to promote cooperation in tourism, culture, the economy, investment, energy, security and defence. Donev highlighted possibilities to boost commodity exchange and called for stepping up the drafting of a bilateral investment promotion agreement.