Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Expectations from the summit of the SEESP

Adelina Marini, May 20, 2008

At the moment there are several preliminary meetings taking place before the one of the foreign ministers of the participating states in the South-East European Cooperation process (SEECP). There's a meeting of the political directors who are the special representatives of each participating state and a meeting of the Board of directors of the Regional cooperation council that in February replaced the Stability Pact. The main issue at these meetings is the text of the final declaration which will be announced officially tomorrow by the prime minister Sergey Stanishev. This declaration is a matter of some interesting disputes, according to unofficial sources. One of the main problems is the insertion of Kosovo into the text of the declaration. Against, as it may be expected, are the Serbians and Albania insists Kosovo to be included in the document.

The other important news that I've learned is that the new structure Regional cooperation council already has a head if its representation office in Brussels. At the establishment of the Council it was decided that its headquarters would be in Saraevo and its president would be the Croatian Hido Biscevic. The office in Brussels is of main importance because it will serve as a liaison office with the European Commission and other based in Brussels organisations. The Bulgarian ex-ambassador in the EU Stanislav Daskalov is said to have already been appointed. According to well informed sources, the fight for the post was heavy because there was a big competition between several foreign ministers from the region, among which the ex-foreign minister of Serbia Goran Svilanovich. Greece was also among the candidates.

The participants un the Regional cooperation council are all countries from Central and South-East Europe, several international organisations like the Council of Europe, the EU, NATO, OSCE, the UN. In the Board of directors members are big countries like France, Italy and Germany. The idea for the replacement of the Stability pact with the Regional cooperation council was based on the fact that the region is already mature enough to tackle its own problems. Nevertheless, in the Council take part a large number of the global players.

The choice of Stanislav Daskalov as a head of the Brussels office is another big diplomatic success after our country won to be host of the Secretariat for parliamentary cooperation in South-East Europe. Belgrade and Skopie were the other two candidates. By the way, I have to remind here that the current speaker of the Bulgarian parliament Georghi Pirinski was one of the co-founders of the Stability pact. Maybe from this point of view it is logical that during his presidency of the Parliament, Sofia was chosen to be the host of the Secretariat for parliamentary cooperation.

The Regional cooperation council will work in several priority spheres justice and home affairs, infrastructure, economic and social development. Until recently the unofficial rule was that the Stability pact was used as a plunge board for EU membership. The priority areas show that there's no change in this rule. To be honest, everything is possible and if all the above looks a little distracted and complicated, but in the last decade, in spite of the events dynamics, especially in the Balkans, there is dialogue. Of course a big part has the EU which created a European perspective for the countries of the region. And though all participating states have serious internal political en economic problems, the Balkan jigsaw puzzle seems to be almost arranged. Beside the disputes on whether Kosovo should be in the text of the final declaration, here in Pomorie several other bilateral meetings are expected with great interest. In the first place, although the Serbian president Boris Tadic and foreign minister Vuk Yeremich have not yet confirmed their presence, until they land no one will be 100 % sure that they will come. It would be also very interesting whether the Macedonian president Branko Crvenkovski would share the same table with the Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis. It would be too optimistic if we expect some kind of solution to the Greek-Macedonian dispute but the fact that so many high officials would be present speaks for itself.

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