|Updated: 21-Feb-2003||February 2003|
Lord Robertson visits Bulgaria
During a visit on 17 February Lord Robertson congratulated Bulgaria on its invitation to join NATO and called on the government to continue with reforms in key areas.
This was the first visit by the Secretary General to one of the seven countries currently engaged in accession talks to join NATO, and the beginning of a round of visits to all the invitees.
During his visit Lord Robertson met senior officials, including the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Purvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov. He also addressed the Bulgarian Parliament.
“The invitation issued to Bulgaria at the Prague Summit is a full vindication of the vision of those who have, for years, seen Bulgaria’s future in NATO. It is a testament to the hard work put in by good people across Bulgaria’s political spectrum and society to make that vision a reality,” Lord Robertson said.
In his meetings, Lord Robertson discussed areas in which Bulgaria still needed to make progress, such as control over arms exports, defence reform, the fight against organised crime and corruption, and the integration of minorities. Discussions also included the international community’s strategy on Iraq and the ongoing consultations in NATO on the protection of Turkey.
Bulgaria is one of seven countries invited to begin accession talks to join NATO at the November 2002 NATO Summit in Prague. It has been a partner country since 1994. It is expected that Bulgaria will join the Alliance at the latest at the next NATO Summit in May 2004, together with the other applicant countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.