State Secretaries of EU Foreign Ministries hold a meeting in Sofia, designate 2018 as the year of the Western Balkans
The Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Jūratė Raguckienė attended the meeting of Secretaries of State (Chancellors) of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the European Union from 30 November to 1 December, in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Ekaterina Zaharieva presented priorities for the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. During the first half of 2018, Bulgaria will mainly focus on the Western Balkans region and the goal of bringing Western Balkan nations closer to the European Union. During the debate, the interlocutors agreed that this was an important region for Europe. Thus, we need to focus all our efforts on getting involved in this and not leave a vacuum, which could be then filled in by other influential international players.
The upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU is ready to maintain a strong, united Europe, and will seek to achieve rapid progress in the field of the Common Security and Defence Policy. It will also strive to strengthen the EU’s internal market, and will continue discussions on the next Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020.
The participants of the meeting also discussed the issue of Iran and an agreement that would constrain Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the topical issues of the European External Action Service (EEAS) – the EEAS’s cooperation with the member states, the joint use of premises in third countries, recruitment for posts in the EEAS and EU delegations. The Secretaries of State visited the Sofia Tech Park and Cyber Security Lab and got themselves acquainted with their activities.
The meeting of the State Secretaries of Foreign Ministries is traditionally held in the upcoming Presidency of the EU Council. Estonia is holding the presidency of the Council of the EU over the second half of 2017. Bulgaria will take over the Presidency on 1 January 2018.