The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union started with a meeting between Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov and Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Premier Borissov symbolically handed over the Presidency to Sebastian Kurz at Planai peak in Schladming Mountain. The President of the European Council Donald Tusk also attended the short ceremony. The special delegate of the Bulgarian National Radio to Schladming Vesela Vladkova had the opportunity to talk with Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz about the difficult period the EU has been going through. Vesela Vladkova also talked to the Spokesperson of the Austrian Federal Government Peter Launsky.
The motto of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is A Europe that Protects. We want to stop illegal migration. We want to protect our achievements, our welfare and everything Europe has built and achieved so far. It is also our priority to continue the Western Balkans topic, which was one of Bulgaria’s priorities during its Presidency of the European Union. We are happy with Bulgaria’s success and progress during the six months of its EU Presidency, the Spokesperson of the Austrian Federal Government Peter Launsky told BNR.
The EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia played a key role in this process, Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov said in Schladming. We set a clear horizon to start negotiations with Albania and Macedonia which lays the foundations for European perspective of the whole region, Boyko Borissov added emphasizing on the continuity of the topics and the priorities during the Bulgarian and the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union:
The motto of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union was United we Stand Strong. The motto of the Austrian EU Presidency is A Europe that Protects. We can protect ourselves only when we are united. We were in a constant dialogue with Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz during the six months of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. I informed Chancellor Kurz with Bulgaria’s work and achievements during our Presidency in fields such as the Western Balkans, digital infrastructure, security, migration and Social Europe, so that a further progress can be made during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Migration is the topic which continues to divide the EU. How adequate is the topic related to the enlargement of the EU towards the Western Balkans then? Here is what Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told the Bulgarian National Radio:
This is a very adequate topic! The countries from the Western Balkans are very important for us. Austria believes that the EU project will only be completed when these countries become part of our community of nations. That is why we support the six countries on their road to accession to the European Union. We will do our best to speed up this process during the next six months. I am very optimistic about Serbia and Montenegro. Soon the EU may start accession talks with Albania and Macedonia, which is an extremely positive development.
When we talk about refugees and the Balkans we should also mention the role of Turkey in the process. During his visit to Sofia in March this year Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the EU should suspend the accession talks with Turkey and has not changed his position since then:
I say yes to cooperation with Turkey and no to this country’s accession to the European Union. We voiced our position long ago. It has not changed since then and will not change in the future. However, it does not mean that the EU and Turkey should not cooperate, especially in the migration field. Yes, the EU-Turkey refugee agreement does not function perfectly. However, it is important for us and we insist on it.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov