The new realities and shared perspectives of the South East European countries are discussing the participants in the Third Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the South East European Cooperation Process. The session in which parliamentarians from 12 countries take part, was opened by the President of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva who is chairing the Assembly.
Today’s topic “20 Years South East European Cooperation Process: the region of new realities and shared perspectives” provides us with an opportunity to discuss what has been achieved so far and what challenges and unresolved issues lie ahead, noted Tsetska Tsacheva. She underlined that over the past years SEECP has gained rich experience, and since 2014 its parliamentary dimension has been successfully operating. It is an honour for the National Assembly that Bulgaria chairs SEECP in the year marking the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Process, whose foundations were laid in Sofia in 1996.
Bulgaria has always played a major role in establishing SEECP as a unique initiative, based on the principles of comprehensiveness, inclusion and regional responsibility, as a key to cooperation in the Balkan region, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Valentin Poryazov said at the opening of the session. He pointed out that Bulgaria had taken over the chairmanship of the organisation with the resolution to continue the mutual cooperation in various sectors and provide a platform for development in the region. In the past year, which was marked by unprecedented challenges, we focused our efforts to achieve results in three key areas – connectivity, stopping migration influxes and media freedom and freedom of expression, he added.
Bulgaria made efforts to enhance the visibility of our organisation and reinforce it as a leading format for cooperation in the region, Valentin Poryazov underlined. He specified that over 40 events and initiatives were carried out during the chairmanship.
Addresses to the participants in the forum were sent by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and other international organisations. In his address to the forum, the chairperson of the committee on foreign affairs of the European Parliament Elmar Brok noted that the possibilities for closer cooperation among European parliamentary organisations as well as among pan-European institutions and regional parliamentary authorities should continue to be discussed. The parliamentarians are ever more responsible for contributing to finding solutions, he underlined. According to Elmar Brok, if parliamentarians cooperate there, there is a higher chance of addressing the problems.
With the Plenary Session of SEECP PA Sofia ends the Bulgarian Chairmanship of the organisation. Within it, steps have been taken for strengthening the cooperation between SEECP PA and the European Parliament and for creating a mechanism for interaction between the two organisations. The priorities of the Bulgarian Chairmanship included energy and transport connectivity of South East European countries, aligning the legislations of the national parliaments with the EU law, and migration processes in view of the need of legislative framework for migration and counter-terrorism.