In an improvised speech the prime minister of Bulgaria, Mr Boyko Borissov, opened the Sofia Forum for the Balkans, which took place in Sofia on June 8-9. Below you will find a full transcript of his speech:
Dear guests, dear fellow foreign ministers who are guests at today's forum, members of parliament, guests from the other side of the ocean. I am honoured to welcome you, of course to highlight my satisfaction with the fact that Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Mr Nickolay Mladenov quite actively, in various similar forums is trying, and I think successfully, to draw the attention of the democratic community to various processes that are important not only in our region but in the entire world. So, in a series of conferences which he holds here and meetings I think that we all have to congratulate him. I would like to join the words of Minister Mladenov with which he started because in our region we went through all the possible ways of denial, of problems, of wars, of bloodshed, of mass graves, of search, of outflow of investment, financial crises ... I think that everything bad that could have happened in our region did happen.
Of course, we are now in a period in which if all people with reason in the Balkans unite our efforts we have a real chance to take our due deserved place in Europe. Bulgaria always is an example of ethnic tolerance, of financial discipline, in the fight against organised crime and corruption, so in this regard we could talk about this these days. It is no accident that this was noted by all our guests in the past days and before that. The Yugo embargo gave a powerful impetus to the creation of organised crime in our region. There is nothing better, at least I don't see, than a European perspective as a union, as a purpose, as a task. It is quite obvious when one travels across our loved peninsula he or she will see in what condition the countries that are in the EU are and the rest.
The pre-accession funds are a huge tool for organising democratic processes, as well as infrastructure. Croatia is a big example in this regard, Slovenia, the farther you go to the West the clearer is the difference between the EU members and those who are not. It is my long cherished dream to see all countries from the Balkan peninsula to one day join the EU. This has two major tasks. One is European co-financing - with the solidarity European aid, undoubtedly, especially in the building of administrative capacity, infrastructure projects, in ecology - gives a huge impetus and, on the other hand has big disciplinary effect.
I sincerely hope that we have all drawn our lessons from what can happen in a country when one of the two pillars is violated - this is in the area of security for the citizens and financial stability (equally important). Fight against crime, fight against corruption must be a first priority for each of our countries in order to make our region calm, in order to secure the needed investments. No one will invest in countries where this security is absent. And in the past 15-20 years in the Balkans we gave a lot of reasons for this. And the second thing is financial stability because our neighbours Greece showed us that if this pillar is violated imbalances happen which are then very, very hard to overcome.
I really wish you in these two days [June 8-9] that you have opportunities to speak, to get to know each other, to be tolerant to each other. There is history - the Balkans are probably the most rich of archaeology and history. Leave that to historians and when diplomats deal with these issue they should do it in the best possible diplomatic, democratic way that corresponds to all the resolutions of the world community. Because now, what we see in Syria is unprecedented and I can only compare it to what was happening on our Balkans 15 years ago - fellow countrymen to kill each other, to kill people with heavy weaponry, to allow hundreds of victims from the civilian population.
I hope that all of you here, as diplomats and foreign ministers, on the topic of Syria let us once again with determination support all measures and declarations of the EU. This is not just impossible and inadmissible but there should be no more tolerance for this regime. This is our firm position and we will defend it at every forum. I wish the conference success and I repeat - diplomatically, tolerantly, every problem can be solved. Let us learn in this regard from the developed democracies of the West. In the European Council, whenever there is a conflict issue, which is difficult to solve, which requires consolidation, it is tabled and if it is not resolved at once it moves ahead in time - 2, 3, 4 times - until all details are hammered out and in the end of the day a compromise is reached that would satisfy everyone.
It is not easy - 27 countries, with Croatia 28 - to reach consensus on whatever issues. Same is on the Balkans. We are less but instead we all have our tempers. We have an unlimited number of examples - Serbia was at war with NATO; during the war Bulgaria in one moment declared war to everyone - the Soviet Union, the United States, its neighbours with zero chances of success but we showed that we could oppose the whole world. Well, of course, after that our borders shrank and we had our slaps and lessons from history. This is why, it is time for building on the Balkans.
It is inadmissible for us not to have motorways and railways to connect our capital cities in all the Balkan nations. It is inadmissible not to have a direct flight. We leave for Zagreb from Sofia and we have to pass through Munich or Vienna. This is inadmissible, gentlemen! If we do not draw our lessons and if we don't do this now we are simply weak politicians. Once again I welcome the guests, thank you for the attention. Boris Tadic was to come today but he called me that simply at the moment they were making the Serbian government and he had no way to leave them to come but in subsequent meetings we can rely on them. Wish you success and thank you!