“Bulgaria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zakharieva warned that there are foreign actors in the Western Balkans that have a strong impact on some countries, but the responsibility for this lies with the European Union because it was not ‘sufficiently engaged’ in the region.

‘There are foreign influences in the region. That is our fault. We are not sufficiently present and sufficiently engaged in the countries of the Western Balkans. If we are not there, then someone else has the opportunity to influence these countries, someone who is not part of our European family, nor is it part of NATO,’ Zakharieva underlined.

The head of Bulgarian diplomacy addressed the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), where she confirmed that the Western Balkans are the most important priority of the six-month Bulgarian presidency of the European Union.

According to Zakharieva, the region is very important for the entire continent.

‘We firmly believe there is no stability or security in Europe without stability and security in the Western Balkans,’ Zakharieva said.

Speaking of each Western Balkan country individually, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister announced a ‘realistic possibility’ that during the Bulgarian presidency, Montenegro would open two more chapters in the accession negotiations with the EU. She welcomed the involvement of Podgorica’s authorities in the reform process and promised Sofia’s support for opening of new chapters.” (European Western Balkans)