Sofia was the third south-eastern European capital to be visited by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth in the first week of February, following stops in Skopje and Bucharest. He met with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva and Justice Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva for talks, and thereafter attended a conference organised by the European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR), entitled “Duality of the crisis in Europe: Solidarity and foreign policy put to the test”.
In his talks, Minister of State Roth called above all for rapid progress to be made on continued judicial reform. The European Commission recently concluded that Bulgaria’s progress in implementing the agreed reforms had been rather slow.
With regard to Bulgaria’s geostrategic significance as a neighbour of Greece and Turkey, Roth said that “Europe needs Bulgaria to stand by its European neighbours,” and gave assurances that Germany would continue to assist in developing robust rule-of-law structures and sustainably implementing the reforms already adopted.
During the ECFR panel discussion, Roth spoke out vehemently in favour of greater mutual assistance within the EU:
We will not preserve a joint union by going it alone and asserting national interests. We’d be better off if we laid to rest the debate on “more” or “less” Europe once and for all. What we really need is a better Europe, in which all players are aware of their responsibilities and stick to their agreements.