Bulgarian Presidency of Council of EU through the eyes of a journalist, lecturer, and a student

Photo: BGNES

The future of Europe and young people, the Western Balkans, Security and Stability, Digital Economy – these were the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU this country clearly pointed out ahead of the start of the Presidency in Sofia. Now, six months later, we can conclude that the presidency will be remembered mostly by the important steps made towards the inclusion of the Western Balkans. Bulgaria said it supported the continuation of Turkey's membership talks with the European Union, despite concerns about violation of human rights by Ankara, political observers commented. The Bulgarian position is based on the belief that the Western Balkans are of utmost importance to Europe's security and well-being, and that this process needed Turkey as well. Bulgaria in its capacity as President of the Council of the EU, is seen as a partner who gave the Western Balkans the chance to return to the EU membership negotiating table in the future. Bulgaria have set the direction and processes would continue during the presidencies of Austria and Romania. They also support enlarging of the EU.

The Presidency of the Council of the EU has been the largest and most internationally significant commitment of this country since the beginning of democratic changes. There had been concerns that the country was not ready to accept so many high-ranking officials and guests from Europe, but no problems arose. It was vowed that work will be done in a transparent manner, open to all European partners and, above all, to European citizens. Whether this really happened and what assessment would be given by non-political citizens is yet to be known. For the time being, we offer you the views of a leading Bulgarian journalist, of a teacher at an elite high school in Sofia and that of a student at the Sofia University:

"Of course, people in Bulgaria have learned a lot more about how the EU actually works, because the meetings in Sofia were extremely diverse. They reflect the colorful palette of our social life," says Dobrina Cheshmedzhieva, a journalist working in the Bulgarian National Television and adds:"When it comes to the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU, journalists notice an interesting phenomenon. I could say that in the last days of the Presidency every single topic that me and my friends have talked about, also became a topic of major meetings or discussions of future EU decisions. There were events in every social sphere. In connection with the Presidency the Bulgarian National Television created a special show called #Europe, which in unobtrusive and unpretentious way shows and gives information about the important things that happen in Sofia."

"Speaking about the Bulgarian Presidency, as an external observer, I can say that apart from transport problems that emerged near the venue of the forum, there were no problems in communication," says Dimitar Pehlivanov, a teacher in French language with interests in the EU enlargement sphere. "At a strategic level, the Bulgarian Presidency has gone well. The leaders of the biggest EU countries have met in Sofia; walked across the so-called ‘Bridge of love’ and taken part in the big meetings here in Bulgaria. Surely, the city has also earned something from this massive influx of foreign tourists, especially during weekends.”

"Apart from the inconveniences related to closed boulevards downtown Sofia, I think the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU has achieved a lot," says a 28-year-old student from Sofia. I would like to point out the key meeting on the topic of the Western Balkans, which has managed to bring this issue back on the agenda. Resolving the name dispute over Macedonia is not so much a Bulgarian merit and we should not interfere, although we are the first country in Europe that recognized Macedonia in 1991."

English: Alexander Markov

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