Final Declaration of the Seventh Conference of the Presidents of South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Parliaments
Enhancing the Overarching Role of Regional Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe
Sofia, 13-15 April 2008
We, the Presidents of the Parliaments of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Participating States: Luka Bebić, Liubisha Georgievski, Marian Lupu, Georgi Pirinski, Dimitrios Sioufas, Milorad Živković, the Deputy Presidents Miloljub Albijanić, Şükran Güldal Mumcu, Norica Nicolai, Rifat Rastoder, the Member of the Chamber of Deputies George Baeşu and the Ambassador Bujar Scëndo met in Sofia on 14 April 2008,
together with the Special Invitees: France Cukjati, Hidajet Bisćević. Metin Kazak, Jordan Tzonev, Marijana Grandits and Franklin De Vrieze,
Emphasizing the value and advantages of the SEECP as a process, initiated and developed by the region itself;
Reaffirming our commitment to the principles of Good Neighbourly Relations, Stability, Security and Cooperation, enshrined in the basic documents of the SEECP and reconfirmed in the previous Conferences of the Presidents of SEECP Parliaments;
Recalling the important conclusions of the Final Declaration of the Sixth Conference of the SEECP Speakers of Parliament held in Zagreb in April 2007 and its role in giving an impetus to the processes of regional parliamentary cooperation;
Expressing our conviction that the SEECP can successfully continue to contribute to the fulfillment of the Euro-Atlantic and/or European aspirations of the countries of the region;
Underlining the importance of reaffirming at the present moment the European perspective of the South East European countries, including the Western Balkan countries on the basis of the revised Thessaloniki Agenda,
Have declared as follows:
1. We stress, especially in the light of the recent developments in the region, the need for enhancement of parliamentary cooperation, conducive to overcoming the difficulties the region is facing. In this respect, despite the variety of approaches among SEECP
Participating States, we remain firmly engaged in the further development of regional cooperation which is in the longstanding interests of the peoples of the SEE countries, the region as a whole and its European perspectives.
2. We accentuate the need to promote good neighbourly relations and to find mutually acceptable solutions on pending issues among the countries in the region in accordance with generally accepted international principles and norms.
3. We express our appreciation for the strong continuous support from the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU Member States for regional cooperation in SEE.
4. We commend the achievements of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (SP) and its contribution to peace, stability, security and cooperation in SEE and underline the necessity to safeguard and further build on the significant positive legacy of the SP, including in the parliamentary field, through creative innovative regional approaches of the SEECP Participating States and their Parliaments/Chambers.
5. We particularly emphasize that regional cooperation in South East Europe has entered a new stage with the phasing out of the SP and the launching of the regionally owned and led Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) at the Final Meeting of the Regional Table of the SP/Inaugural Meeting of the RCC on 27 February 2008 in Sofia.
6. We express our support to the RCC in Sarajevo and to the task forces and initiatives under its auspices and encourage them to focus in accordance with the RCC Statute, in a balanced way on all priority areas for cooperation, taking into account the overarching dimension of Parliamentary Cooperation.
7. We stress that in the context of these developments cooperation between National Parliaments/Chambers within the SEECP is acquiring new significance pursuant to its overarching role for the various areas of regional cooperation and in line with the SEECP as the genuine voice of the region and the leading political format for cooperation between the countries of South East Europe.
8. We welcome, pursuant to the endorsement by the Sixth Conference of SEECP Speakers of Parliament of the designation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria as the host of the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe (RSPC SEE), the encouraging preparatory steps taken by the Regional Secretariat and the perspectives for practical cooperation outlined in the Working Plan, successfully elaborated by the joint efforts of National Parliaments/Chambers and Multilateral Institutions.
9. We agree that the momentum of transformation should be maintained and the RCC and the RSPC SEE should be made fully operational in a timely manner.
10. We underline the importance of maintaining a permanent functional link between the RCC and the RSPC SEE and call upon the RCC to constantly have at least one member of its staff with special responsibilities in monitoring and supporting regional parliamentary cooperation and liaising with the RSPC SEE.
11. We welcome the designation of National Coordinators on regional parliamentary cooperation as contacts in the National Parliaments/Chambers of the SEECP Participating States and appreciate the work done by them towards achieving common positions on important matters of parliamentary cooperation in our region.
12. We confirm our commitment to support the RSPC SEE as a focal point for information, coordination and exchange on practical initiatives by the SEECP National Parliaments/Chambers.
13. We underline the importance of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Interparliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe at the present Seventh Conference of the Presidents of SEECP Parliaments in Sofia as a basis of the parliamentary cooperation in the region and of the activities of the RSPC SEE.
14. We stress that one of the main objectives of interparliamentary cooperation in South East Europe is to support the policies of the governments with a view to reinforcing the cooperation at the intergovernmental level.
15. We acknowledge the important role that information and communication technology plays to support the values of democratic parliaments -representativeness, transparency, accessibility, accountability and effectiveness - as outlined in the World e-Parliament Report 2008 by the United Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament. Taking into consideration its recommendations, we express our willingness to cooperate at regional level in this domain to maximize the benefits of a common approach to innovation with the support of the RSPC SEE and of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.
16. We recognize the contribution of the international community to parliamentary cooperation in SEE and express our hope that it will continue to provide adequate political, technical and financial support.
Adopted in Sofia on 14 April 2008