Bulgarian parliamentary delegation led by Yanaki Stoilov, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Atanas Merdzhanov, Chairman of the Committee on Internal Security and Public Order, took part in the Interparliamentary Conference on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, organized in the framework of the Greek EU Presidency. The forum was held on April 3 and 4, 2014 in Athens.
At a meeting held prior to the start of the conference, the Bulgarian delegation supported the inclusion of our country in the informal group of EU South. Specific guidelines for its work will be discussed and adopted under the Italian Presidency.
The main focus of conference debates was the crisis in Ukraine and the EU role in the efforts for its overcoming. Yanaki Stoilov expressed positions at the meeting of the Political Group of Socialists and Democrats, at the meeting of heads of delegations as well as at the plenary sessions of the Conference.
The conference discussed the priorities of the Common Foreign Policy presented by Catherine Ashton. In answering a question posed by the Bulgarian delegation, Ashton agreed that when debating the topical issues it is necessary to pay more attention to the positions expressed by Member States that are most affected by a given decision.
In discussing the situation in Ukraine, Yanaki Stoilov indicated the need for political dialogue involving EU, Russia and Ukraine in order to stabilize the situation in Ukraine as quickly as possible and create opportunities for improved socio-economic conditions in the country. He noted the need to pursue an inclusive policy as a guarantee of the rights of the citizens belonging to the Bulgarian community and other minority groups in Ukraine. Stoilov stressed the need for free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections as a condition for signing the economic part of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. In conclusion he pointed out that in case of restraint on the part of Russia political dialogue is preferable to imposing economic sanctions.
The Bulgarian delegation put forward proposals, some of which were reflected in the conference conclusions on the crisis in Ukraine.