by H.E. Mrs Nadezhda MIHAILOVA,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria
Agenda Item I: Review of the EAPC Work
Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me first of all to congratulate my friends and colleagues from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, as well as the 16 NATO nations, with the successful completion of the accession negotiations. Their positive results, I hope, have convinced the sceptics that that the concept of enlargement has been well engineered.
An encouraging outcome of the process of the successful internal and external adaptation of NATO are the estimated relatively law costs of the enlargement. This an important factor for further enhancement of the enlargement concept.
We are quite optimistic about the positive outcome of the ratification process. It should reflect the maturity of the European strategic vision which will lead us to the Summit in 1999. This will be a crucial moment for reflection and for considering further steps of the NATO open- door policy.
For its part, Bulgaria will pursue its concerted efforts towards the strategic objective of early membership in the Alliance. We are determined to preserve the velocity on the highway to full integration. The whole arsenal of bilateral and multilateral arrangements will be considered to this end. Priority has always been given to the EAPC/PfP framework and the potential of the individual Intensified Dialogue. Through this dialogue we would like to develop a membership-driven agenda, which might include but not be limited to a network of practical programmes and arrangements to solicit for recommendations on our adaptation efforts, as reflected in the National Programme for the preparation of the accession to NATO.
Today we are endorsing the first EAPC Action Plan. It is a living document which reflects our short- and long-term priorities. The document is a joint endeavour of 44 countries and it covers a wide range of issues for consultation and practical cooperation. Its inclusive, result-oriented and consensus-based nature reflect the firm commitment of the EAPC members to maintain the indivisible European security through joint efforts.
My country has particular interest and in the development of the integration function of the Partnership designated for countries not yet invited for accession talks. Nevertheless, we do not consider the EAPC as a waiting room for membership since it has a merit in itself. We see this merit in the development of crises management potential and further adaptation of the consultative, planning and operational procedures for joint operations. As an overarching framework, the EAPC should be considered as a forum for joint efforts on non-article 5 commitments and in particular for the implementation of the CJTF concept. It might encourage the development of the ESDI and the involvement of other international security institutions.
Bulgaria attaches great importance to the regional cooperation and the establishment of exemplary good-neighbourly relations as a national commitment to the overall European security and stability. The last months of this year witnessed an extremely busy and substantive agenda of regional cooperation in Southeastern Europe. My country hosted a very successful meeting of the Ministers of Defence of PfP participating nations from Southeastern Europe which reflected our determination to advance regional security and defence cooperation. A number of very important bilateral and trilateral initiatives, involving our good neighbours and friends - Romania, Turkey and Greece, reinforced the security-generating power of the region.
In the framework of the EAPC, an initial round of focused discussions on regional security cooperation in Southeastern Europe has been successfully completed. It followed on and significantly promoted the thrust of our regional Euro-Atlantic cooperation initiative, launched in Madrid last July.
Our assessment of the outcome of the regional discussions is highly positive. It was an evident proof of the genuine attention to the positive developments in the region clearly acknowledged in the Madrid Summit Declaration. There was a clear understanding that the EAPC is supportive to building greater stability and security in Southeastern Europe, and that the regional cooperation could enhance the EAPC/PfP objectives. The establishment of a set of shared principles and areas for regional cooperation unveiled the potential for the region's contribution to the overall stability.
A number of considerations expressed during the discussion are equally relevant to any regional co-operation initiative within the EAPC. Regional co-operation should not lead to the creation of "regional clubs" but rather reinforce the implementation of the Partnership goals and objectives in different regions. This co-operation should not be seen as an alternative to early membership in NATO for countries that are willing and able to achieve it but rather as an instrument to better engage their committed efforts in benefit of regional security and co-operation. Also important is to not duplicate efforts of other international organisations or regional co-operative arrangements.
I hope that the Council will be encouraged to keep the issue under constant review, and further steps will be considered to enhance the regional dimension. The focused and cooperation-driven approach should be maintained. The working method of open-ended groups has provided for a sound preparation of the discussions and should be preserved in our future work. While flexibility and pragmatic action are important advantages, we should continue to seek ways to assure a permanent character of the process on the basis of the principles set up in the EAPC Basic Document and the Action Plan.
In a broader approach towards regional security and stability, we see a significant scope for regional consultation and co-operation for countering international terrorism, illegal arms transfers, drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime.
Last October Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov hosted an important meeting in Varna with the Presidents of Romania and Turkey which focused on co-operation to effectively combat organised crime, illicit arms and drug trafficking, money laundering and international terrorism. Recent tripartite meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania have pursued similar goals.
The growing support for joint efforts in countering these new risks and challenges was reflected in the regional discussion in the context of the EAPC and at the Sofia Defence Ministerial. At the recent EAPC Defence Ministerial Bulgaria and Turkey invited the Council and its members to consider practical steps in this regard, in the spirit of paragraph 25 of the Madrid Summit Declaration, and I would like to reiterate our strong support for this initiative.
Concerning the enhanced Partnership for Peace, I would like to share with you our high estimation of recent developments in the implementation of this unique project and its evolution into a meaningful, demand-driven process. There is vision and flexibility both among Partners and Allies. With the increased opportunities for Partners' involvement in the decision-making process, the Partners are more and more involved in designing and engineering the Partnership. Initial consultations on the political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations took place. There are very encouraging developments in expanding and adapting the PfP Planning and Review Process to include the concept of Partners' Goals in the future. We highly appreciate the opening up of new areas for cooperation, such as the NATO Security Investment Programme, the Industrial Dialogue with the Partners, the Military Committee in EAPC format, the successful implementation of the Partnership Staff Elements concept etc. We are committed to an active participation in all these new projects.
Agenda Item II: The situation in and around Bosnia and Herzegovina
We assess the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a fragile status quo and we support the future prolongation of the international military presence - either in an SFOR format or in a post-SFOR, NATO-led force. The implementation of the SFOR mandate is a task of extreme importance. This is a real test for our security projection potential and Bulgaria is ready to face the challenge. Regardless of our limited resources, we are committed to expand our national contribution to SFOR by dedicating additional military capabilities, and we highly appreciate the valuable support and assistance by the Netherlands and Greece which made it possible.
However, we have to look beyond today's commitments. We believe that the EAPC has already acquired a significant potential to undertake a greater crisis management role in the post-SFOR period. To this effect, our common work should focus on developing the arrangements for an EAPC political-military role and on strengthening of the collective potential of EAPC member countries for NATO-led crisis management and peace support operations. This would reinforce the place of EAPC as an important building block of the new European security architecture.
The latest events confirmed that there is no alternative to the Peace Agreement as a foundation for the political, democratic and economic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina and for sustainable peace in the entire region. Considerable progress is evident in implementing peace and stability and serious results are obtained in enhancing a new climate of security. At the same time, the implementation process faces new challenges and risks. Bulgaria directly experienced the adverse consequences of the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia. For this reason, we strongly support the impartial implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords and join the international endeavour in bringing them to a final and successful ends.
The implementation of the civilian segment of the agreements proved to be much more difficult than expected. Irrespective of the international effort and heavy funding, the progress made in democratisation, human rights and other fields is far from excellent. At present, the process of building-up Bosnia and Herzegovina as a vital multi-ethnic state needs new dynamics. We fully support the enhanced responsibilities of the High Representative in pursuing the implementation of the Peace Agreements by making binding decisions on issues prescribed by the Bonn Peace Implementation Conference (1997).
We share the view that the OSCE carries out successfully its responsibilities, mandated by the Dayton Peace Accords. Bulgaria contributes to the efforts of the organisation by seconding experienced experts to the OSCE mission. In our view, the success of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina will depend on the future cooperation of the international organisations and institutions on the field.
We support the common understanding that cooperation with the International Tribunal for War Crimes in former Yugoslavia is of a paramount importance for the advancement of the peace process. Taking into consideration the place of Bulgaria and the existing border regime, my Government examines the possibility to implement new specific measures against indicted war criminals. Our readiness to seriously tackle this problem was proven by joining the common position of the EU Council of 12 September 1997.
Recent economic developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina proved that further steps are necessary to unite the economic space throughout the country and open it for trade and contacts across division lines and borders.
We recognise that the future of Bosnia after the end of June of next year remains the most pertaining question. This issue has to be addressed in the forthcoming months. We have to embark on this assignment and test the credibility of the EAPC to provide for a forum for consultations and practical cooperation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.