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Bulgaria Will Not Eat away Europe's Wealth

Date: 07.09.2006

If Bulgaria's accession to the EU is postponed, the people will lose faith in the Union

PM Sergei Stanishev gave a 35-minute news conference after he made a report about Bulgaria's readiness to join the EU. The PM answered the questions of journalists working for ANSA, ARD, the Irish national television, RAI Uno, Nu Observer etc. Stanishev also gave exclusive interviews for RAI UNO, CDF and The Times

- Mr. Stanishev, do you think that it would be fair if Bulgaria fulfills its action plan but is left outside the EU or joins the Union with safeguard clauses?

- I cannot speak on behalf of the EC. However, I expect that the Commission will treat Bulgaria fairly and objectively. I am certain that the Bulgarian government will fulfill its action plan. I understand that it is hard to judge whether our country follows the action plan, especially in the fight against corruption, because practically the criteria are not clear. However, we are determined to continue the fight against corruption and organized crime even after January 1, 2007.

- Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said that the EC supports the targeted accession date of Bulgaria in 2007 but with safeguard clauses. Do you think that if safeguard clauses are activated this will be a victory for the hardliners in the EC?

- The commission will be ready with its decision on September 26. Information that leakes before this date cannot be fully trusted. As for the safeguard clauses, they are stipulated in the accession treaties and can be triggered in any country during the first three years of its membership.

- What will be your reaction if the EC suggests that Bulgaria's membership should be postponed until 2008 and do you think that there will be social repercussions in Bulgaria?

- I am an optimist and I know what Bulgaria has accomplished so far. The people of Bulgaria have suffered a lot during the past couple of years. Things are changing but not as fast as Bulgarians would want them to. I do not even think about the possibility of postponement. I want to ask you who will benefit if our membership is postponed. In any case this won't be Bulgarians. Of course, theoretically, we can endure one year of delay. Bulgaria's economy is expanding, foreign direct investments are growing. However, if our membership is postponed the people will lose faith in the EU.

- One of the crucial questions is whether restrictions will be imposed for Bulgarian workers. At the moment the Irish and British governments are preparing to introduce such limitations. How would you comment on it?

- I know for sure that the number of negative publications about Bulgaria grows every time a report of the EC is coming. The media bring spotlight on Bulgaria and Romania. I have been reading preposterous articles warning about the influx of Bulgarian workers that will take jobs away from the host countries. However, even now there are Bulgarians working all across Europe and I have not heard that they cause any problems.

- What is your opinion about the further enlargement of the EU and Bulgaria's role on the Balkans after the country's accession to the Union?

- Thank you very much for this question. Despite all criticisms towards Bulgaria our country has always been a guarantor of stability on the Balkans and in Southeast Europe. Bulgaria is the perfect example of flawless regional cooperation. Bulgaria is a country that is in perfect relations with all its neighbors on the Balkans. This will be one of Bulgaria's biggest contributions to the EU.

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