On 27 October 2016 H.E. Mr. Daniel Mitov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria visited the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade and gave a public lecture with the title “The Future of Europe – A Pragmatic Approach”.
Before the ministerial speech, Márton Schőberl, Director General of the Institute welcomed the audience and reminded on the need to have constructive debate on the future of the European Union.
In his speech Minister Mitov talked about the need for the continuous adjustment to globalization, emphasized the important role of the European Union and he spoke about the rising concerns regarding Russia and Turkey. Mr. Mitov explained how fragile our democratic achievements were in the context of globalization and underlined the need to find a solution together, how to deal with the many downsides of globalization threatening our community recently. He emphasized also the role of the European Union – as a proper framework to enhance the capability of nation states that are still the pillars of the international system – in this road forward deepening cooperation and the importance of the protection of the common principles created by the European Union. He also pointed out that Europeanization of policies should continue with security and counterterrorism being in focus.
On the other hand, he criticized the current model of multiculturalism that could be held responsible for the effect of ‘ghettoization’ as it led to parallel societies “tolerating each other” and lacks communication and interaction among communities. Instead, he suggested the use of the phrase ‘ethnic and religious pluralism’ and to focus on mutual respect. He raised attention to the significance of the closer neighbourhood as well, and highlighted the support of Ukraine in all terms by Bulgaria. Furthermore, the Minister stated that the actions of Russia cannot be tolerated and the sovereignty of other states must be ensured. The possibility for further revisionist attempts by any country need to be prevented and the rule of international law has to be secured. Regarding Turkey, he mentioned a set of risks concerning the concentration of political power, economic stability, population growth and the questionability of democracy but highlighted also the necessity to cooperate with Turkey.
After his speech, Minister Mitov answered several questions. Concerning the new EU Global Strategy, he welcomed that Strategy laid down a flexible and long-term framework that also address the problem of migration and the control of external borders. He emphasized the need to provide a controlled legal way of entry to the EU to the migrants and the refugees. This way the EU members can comply with their international obligations and can sustain stability within the community. Minister Mitov also commented on the continuing postponement of Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area and added that the country would develop its already existing capacities in order to ensure proper management of migrants arriving to Bulgaria. Beyond these issues he expressed his views also about the slow pace of economic convergence, the division between old and new member states as well as about the possible consequence of Brexit.
Finally, Mr Mitov emphasized the importance to preserve the unity within the European Union and he stated that the EU will survive and there is an opportunity that it might get stronger as a result of the challenges it faces nowadays.