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Wednesday, 04 July

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila attended the high-level quadrilateral meeting of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, in Thessaloniki

On July 4, 2018, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă attended, at the invitation of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a new high-level quadrilateral meeting of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, alongside Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov and the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

The summit contributed to strengthening the high –level dialogue in this format and to identifying ways of cooperation in the region.

The Romanian Prime Minister highlighted that given Romania's preparations to take over the Presidency of the EU Council for the first time, in the first semester of 2019, advancing the interconnection projects with the South –Eastern European states, achieving progress in ensuring the energy security of the region, intensifying regional cooperation as well as continuing enlargement with the Western Balkan states, represent priority objectives for Romania.

As regards interconnectivity, emphasis was placed on infrastructure projects in the field of transports, and also on energy interconnections.

Regarding the regional transport infrastructure projects, Romania proposed the setting up of a working group in the field of transport which will identify and establish priority projects to be promoted by parties in quadrilateral, trilateral and bilateral formats and the financing sources respectively. Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă expressed her firm belief that the joint projects will stimulate trade, links between companies and tourism.

The Romanian Prime Minister conveyed our country’s special interest in advancing energy interconnections with Serbia, and in facilitating the Romanian gas and electricity exports and mentioned the importance of boosting efforts to consolidate  energy security at regional and European level, especially by diversifying supply sources and accelerating interconnections.

Regarding the European Strategy for the Danube Region whose presidency will be taken over by Romania from Bulgaria in October 2018, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă stated that Romania aims at promoting its value added in order to ensure economic development, social cohesion and to reduce territorial development gaps at EU level.

As regards the EU enlargement with Western Balkan states, Prime Minister specified that Romania, as part of the trio of presidencies made up of Bulgaria, Austria and our country, wants to continue the close cooperation with the states in this region. Prime Minister reiterated on this occasion, Romania’s constant and solid support for Serbia’s negotiation process for EU accession. The senior Romanian official underlined at the same time that the Romanian Government aims at building a better integrated region, to include the Balkan states as a premise for a sustainable growth in the region.

During the Thessaloniki Summit, Prime Minister of Romania upheld the need of action for regional stabilization designed to counter the factors that facilitate the phenomena of radicalization and violent extremism, with the involvement civil society and local and central authorities. She also brought up the issue of border security, highlighting in this context, the importance of regional and bilateral cooperation to prevent and combat illegal migration and organized crime.

Regarding migration, the senior officials gathered in Thessaloniki outlined that this topic remains a priority on the EU agenda, as demonstrated by the discussions at the most recent European Council meeting (June 28-29, 2018). Officials outlined that further efforts are required to identify the best ways of action to ensure a comprehensive, effective approach to migration.

The Romanian Prime Minister stated that Romania counts on the continued commitment of the states in the region, including Serbia, in managing the challenges triggered by the phenomenon of migration and in avoiding the promotion of measures that will turn into a pull factor for the region, for the benefit of all, Member States and Partner States.

As regards the revision of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă appreciated the efforts made by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council to reach a compromise on the Dublin proposal, as well as the developments in terms of the other CEAS instruments.

We also mention that the Thessaloniki summit was attended by Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian government officials in the field of transport who also had a meeting in quadrilateral format with a view to identifying concrete cooperation possibilities in this field.

 

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Previous meetings of senior officials of the four states took place in Varna,  on the sidelines of the joint meeting of the Government of Romania and the Government of Bulgaria (October 3, 2017), in Belgrade (December 8-9, 2017), and in Bucharest (April 24, 2018).

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Prime Minister Viorica Dancila attends today the high-level quadrilateral meeting of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, to be held in Thessaloniki.

Talks in Thessaloniki will focus on topics of interest discussed at the similar meeting hosted by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in Bucharest, on April 24, 2018. Talks aimed at cooperation in key areas such as: transports, energy, telecommunications, internal affairs, the Danube Strategy.

The meeting occasioned at the same time an assessment of the current status Serbia’s European track, and the European perspective of the entire region as well as of the ways to boost these processes.

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Joint press statements by Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Alexis Tsipras, President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksander Vučić, Prime Minister of Romania Viorica Dancila, and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boiko Borisov

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Alexis Tsipras: Allow me to tell you once again: welcome to Thessaloniki. We met with the Serbian President and the Bulgarian Prime Minister for the first time, two years ago, in Thessaloniki. I also wish a warm welcome to the Prime Minister of Romania, Mrs. Viorica Dancila.

We started these quadrilateral meetings Romania –Bulgaria –Serbia –Greece one year ago.

In the last year, almost nobody thought that so many things would change in our region, in this Balkan area, and that this initiative that we took two years ago, would extend – as I said, the Romanian Prime Minister started to attend it too, and most importantly is that this meeting has an institutionalized character. There are more and more dynamics, there is a common collaboration concept in the Balkan area, and it is very important to show which are the projects that we want to implement in our Balkan area, for our economic collaboration. I want to remind you here how we stood in the previous years. In 2014, the Ministerial meeting which was scheduled, did not have the possibility, the dynamics to implement the Thessaloniki agenda as President Juncker stated that there was no possibility for EU to enlarge. And then, Chancellor Angela Merkel had an initiative, known as Berlin Initiative, to maintain this connection as viable, this Western Balkans’ connection with EU, but excluded certain countries in the Balkan area, in this dialogue. I remind you that later, in 2015 -2016, we went through a crisis of refugees, but also the impact the economic crisis had in our country, in the Hellenic Republic, and, as you know, 2017 was a very difficult year, because of the political crisis from Albania, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We see that all these problems have been nevertheless overcome, very easily, without too many impediments, and we could say that we came to the point of making a 180 degrees return, and thus creating a positive dynamics in this initiative. This year, we signed a very important collaboration agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, there was the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU, a very well established mandate, with an extraordinary success, and as we know, we want to say that it was a Balkan presidency, and we want to thank and congratulate Boiko Borisov for this presidency, for the meetings we had in Sofia, for our meetings pertaining to Western Balkans, which outlined even more our initiative.

I would like to outline that one year ago, we did not even think that certain things could have been implemented, could have been resolved. All these obstacles have been overcome, and all these impediments –removed, giving thus a new perspective to our Balkan area and showing what the EU integration perspective of Serbia and Montenegro is. This initiative will be implemented in 2025, and we have recently taken decision - as of 2019 and beyond, there will start talks for the EU accession of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia- we signed an agreement for the name of this country concerning which, we have come to a common denominator. In the year that passed since we took this joint Initiative for the Balkan area, we tried to complete a cycle of progress and opened a new cycle of progress for the years to come. Within this framework, we have had the opportunity today to look at the current developments, the prospects for future development regarding the international legal framework. We must lay the foundations for collaboration and the construction of common collaboration for the future that will be viable in the coming years as well. For us, all the Balkan countries, not only Romania, Bulgaria and us, the Hellenic Republic - with Serbia and Bulgaria, we meet quite often - we will continue to try to back Serbia’s integration into the European family. I assured them of our support in the EU and our support for the integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area.

Next meeting will take place in late September; as Boiko Borisov told us, he will be our host in Bulgaria. The 16 +1 summit will take place over the next days, in Bulgaria. We discussed about my presence at this summit, and of course, we discussed about the presidency of the Council of the EU which will be taken over by Austria and further on, by Romania.

We discussed about the very sensitive points related to migration, the refugees’ issue.

In parallel, there was a meeting of the Ministers of Infrastructure Works from industry and energy. We discussed very many projects of strategic importance which we want to implement in our countries, we referred to road transport, rail transport, the link between Alexandroupolis, Kavala, Burgas, Giurgiu, Ruse, about the Thessaloniki-Skopje-Belgrade railway link, a whole range of energy projects and other very important infrastructure works. The obligation we have to link ports in the northern Aegean Sea to the Black Sea ports. And then, our ministers have prepared a very bold plan, a plan that we could say that will materialize in a transport ring, of goods distribution in the Balkan area, a ring that will link the four countries by road , rail, inland waterways and maritime transport, which will provide a new geopolitical role in our area - this link, especially the connection of our ports without the need to cross through the Dardanelles Straits. We also talked about a future framework, a joint venture we could say, a company for managing these new rail and road networks and showing how important the Balkan geopolitical area is, because, as you know, here there is a crossroads between north and south, between east and west.

I would like once again to thank the Serbian President, the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Romanian Prime Minister, hopefully, we have a new dynamics in the future, in our meetings, a common vision, confidence in this vision and in our power, we should have the courage to take bold steps, even if, many times, we may sometimes take these steps against the trend, we could say. We need to lay the foundations of a very important collaboration for the European area of the Balkans, which will be a democratic area, which will not see anymore the previous year’s conflicts, which will not be haunted anymore by the previous years’ natioanlism and which will be oriented towards development, to the benefit of all.

I want to thank again our guests here, in Thessaloniki, the Serbian President, the two Prime Ministers, and to give the floor further on to the Serbian President, Mr. Aleksandar Vučić.

Aleksandar Vučić: Distinguished Alexis, distinguished Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Romania, Madam Dancila, Mr. Borisov, ladies and gentlemen, dear journalists, I will try to be brief and state that to us, to Serbia, a meeting of such level is very important. I am satisfied with the outcome of this meeting. I thank Alexis for having hosted us, and for the presence of Mrs. Viorica Dancila and Mr. Boiko Borisov. It is very important we are here, Serbia has the support of these friends, these three friend countries. For Serbia, it is equally important that we work together within several projects. We discussed about transports, rail transports, gas pipelines, multimodal transports, more in detail and more responsible than on other occasions. Both the Greek and the Bulgarian side proposed the common revenues to be used in joint transport projects, which will be beneficial for all countries, so that, together, there is the best administration and an improvement in transports and trade between our countries. There will always be a link with Romania: this link with Romania was often mentioned, we should link Romania to all the transport ways with other countries in the Balkans, via maritime way too.

 There are projects connecting Belgrade, Skopje, Thessaloniki, some highways are being completed, the same in Bulgaria, the highway to the border with Bulgaria is in the final phase, to the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. All these highways have not been built for decades and are now nearing completion, and we expect this connection between our countries to be more useful, more eloquent. Supporting these projects is very important and I want to say that I understand Alexis very well, but he too should understand me that we have not solved the big problem: Belgrade's links with Priština. It is something that I discussed with friends, I thank them for it, they are always ready to listen, to hear Serbia’s positions. I have never meddled with sovereign issues of countries and this is why I do not want to meddle in the name of the neighboring country, of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Dear Alexis Tsipras, undoubtedly, anyone who sees that in Serbia, parties that had divergent views, reached an agreement, this is a very good news for all countries in the region, and I want this collaboration to continue, considering both parties’ interests. It is equally important to maintain ourselves so, we want to be united to resolve the problems of the Balkan area, and I agree with Alexis Tsipras that all these which were concealed and put aside, in the future, if we do not resolve them, we will encounter problems. Boiko Borisov attended all talks and he expected the UN General Assembly to take place in Sofia, as everything happens in Sofia. Hopefully, the next meetings will take place in Sofia, and our next meeting will be held in Varna and I will host in Belgrade, the December meeting during which hopefully, we will make important decisions regarding the way transport in the region will be organized. All these issues will be beneficial for our nations, they will bring us closer to each other– Greeks, Romanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, etc. Thank you once again for hospitality, and I apologize if my speech took too long.

Viorica Dancila: It is a great pleasure for me to take part in the fourth meeting in this format, which has proven its usefulness in promoting our objectives in the region. Our shared stake is today to offer substance to this format. Today, the meeting of the Transport Ministers took place so that we can identify common projects in this area. We hope that in the next period such meetings between the relevant Ministers will take place in order to have as many joint projects as possible both at regional level but also at European level.

I want to thank Alexis for the excellent organization and hospitality, and I want to congratulate him for the latest projects, both regional projects and economic projects.

I want to assure the Greek Prime Minister that Greece is a key country for Romania in the region, and we want to intensify dialogue and cooperation at bilateral, regional and European level. At the same time, I would like to congratulate the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov for the mandate at the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and to appreciate that the Western Balkans have occupied a central place. As you know on January 1, 2019, Romania will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and I want to assure you that the Western Balkans will be an important topic during our mandate.

I discussed with President Vucic about European integration and I assured him that we all want that Serbia becomes a full EU member state. I want to assure President Vucic of Romania’s firm commitment to politically and technically supporting Serbia’s European integration.

Our discussions have had common ground both on the European agenda and in areas of interest in the region as I mentioned, pertaining to transport, energy and the Danube Strategy. I believe that the discussions in this format are about the reality existing in the region and I think they can bring added value.

I want to thank once again the Greek Prime Minister, the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Serbian Prime Minister for the discussions full of substance we have had in this format. Thank you.

Alexis Tsipras: Thank you, Viorica. Boiko, I am sure that if the idea expressed by Alexander would have ocured earlier to you, i.e., to think about holding the UN General Assembly in Sofia, I am sure you would have managed to do it.

Boiko Borisov: First of all, I would like to thank Thessaloniki along with my colleagues, as 15 years ago, here, in Thessaloniki, it was given the start in backing Bulgaria and Romania for EU accession, and it is good to remember and mention the good things. I am particularly glad – and I do not say it only because journalists are here, and they recognized too there is a Balkan cooperation at the bilateral meetings too. Perhaps many do not understand, things are enough complicated many times and every Balkan country proudly managed, with all the powers and the arguments it may bring, to come before the 28 EU Member States, both in Sofia and in other countries as well, to be proud of what it achieved in the previous semester, during the presidency at the EU Council. Following our talks, I understood that everybody was satisfied, Bosnia –Herzegovina too, therefore countries in the Western Balkans and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of Bulgaria’s results and activity, during the semester when it held the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. Therefore, all countries have a great importance both for Bulgaria and for the other Balkan states, for Romania, Greece, etc.

In addition to the fact that we meet and convey various political messages, an important issue that our countries can do, alongside Romania and Greece, is to insist for Serbia to join the European family, but there should be criteria that we all should implement, to be able to ensure several revenues, to help our nations. There is no road between Serbia and Bulgaria, therefore, we must build one, we must connect these countries so that to facilitate transportation. I will not comment more. What has not been achieved over the last decades, it should be done now by us, to the benefit of our countries. Today, due to these works, we manage to pay, to entirely reimburse the money, in a shorter time that was initially stipulated, from 26 to 14 years; over the next time interval, we need to upgrade their systems, develop them at digital level, high IT level. All these should be processed, there should be a common and processed data basis so that road taxes are paid according to the size of containers crossing each territory, therefore, it must be a connection between the Aegian Sea and the Black Sea ports, Varna, Burgas, Constanta. Our Ministers should present us very soon very concrete things, so that they should be put in practice for us not to be late. We are talking with Romania about a new bridge across Danube, beyond the existing ones, to facilitate bulk cargo. The Vidin bridge should be much bigger than designed, so that trucks could handle this high volume of commodities. I have said that we will cooperate with the European Commissioner for Regional Development, with Mrs. Corina Cretu, who will support us to access European funds. We want to involve the EU too not to give the impression that only us, the four, are those who initiated and implemented all these projects, we want the EU assistance too. We want to compete, in the positive way, with all the other developed countries in Europe and of course, then, everybody will be glad that they achieved things to their benefit. Therefore, there should be competition, connection of gas pipelines, so that natural gas reaches countries that currently have no access to them. I think that soon, we will be prepared to tell more about these interconnections of gas pipelines, both with Greece, and with the other countries. All these projects should be further resolved and we should reach a common denominator, a joint agreement together with Serbia. More and more projects should be implemented, as we are neighbors and as the Greek Prime Minister and the Serbian President said it, we haven’t had yet the friendly behavior we should have, we should support the Serbians, our friends from Serbia, in the conflict existing between Serbia and Kosovo, it is a very important topic, we must all be together and alongside them, to show the trajectory, the EU accession pathway, to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to Albania. As you know, it is very important as you could see, Sofia and Skopje have come to an understanding, we could say, a velvet one. At the same time, in the end, Athens and Skopje also came to an understanding, our Prime Ministers met and discussed, and we must have a very good agenda in the future too, at the meeting in Varna, at the meeting in Belgrade; every time, some decisions have been taken and we need to see what support we will get from the European Commission because, as you know, these large infrastructure works, these large natural gas or oil pipelines need the EU's financial support. Let's hope that the Romanian presidency of the EU Council will be a successful one too.

Alexis Tsipras: Boyko, thank you and thanks to all my colleagues who were here in Thessaloniki. It is a symbolic city for us, all the Balkan countries, because Thessaloniki, as you know, is one of the most important cities in the Balkan region. We will meet again in late September in Varna, where I hope we will take a very important new step in our cross- border inter-Balkan collaboration.

Thank you very much for being with us today in Thessaloniki.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                          



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