Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized the growing importance of NATO for the Black Sea Region at the teleconference meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Alliance held on 1 and 2 December.
The first session of the forum focused on the recommendations of the group of experts in the NATO 2030 reflection process on the adaptation to the changing security environment. Minister Zaharieva thanked the group for its efforts and underlined that it was of paramount importance for the recommendations to be implemented in a way that would strengthen the Alliance’s solidarity and unity. „NATO needs to improve its presence and situational awareness in the Black Sea Region“, said Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva.
The Foreign Ministers discussed also a wide range of issues relating to the challenges coming from Russia, the latest developments in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister stated that the allies had to preserve what had already been achieved in Afghanistan and that Bulgaria would continue its commitment to the Resolute Support Mission as long as it was necessary.
Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva welcomed the progress in Libya and expressed her expectation that it would serve as a basis for the political transition. The process should be implemented under the auspices of the United Nations and within the framework of the Berlin Process, while NATO should continue the coordination on with other international organizations present there, including the EU and the newly appointed UN Special Envoy for Libya.
As to the Euro-Atlantic prospects for the countries in the Western Balkans, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the role of NATO in promoting goodneighbourly relations, fighting misinformation, supporting reform processes and interacting in practice with our partners in the region. „At the same time, our partners in the Western Balkans are expected to synchronize their security policies with those of the Alliance“, said Ms. Zaharieva.
On the second day of the meeting, Minister Zaharieva and her NATO counterparts had a joint session with the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the partner countries in the Asia-Pacific Region (Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea), Finland and Sweden to discuss the changes in the global balance of forces due to the growing influence of China. The participants in the discussion agreed that China put a series of challenges to the Euro-Atlantic community but it also opened opportunities for cooperation in spheres such as the arms control, the fight against terrorism, and others.
At the third and last session of the forum, the NATO Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in the Black Sea Region together with their counterparts from Georgia and Ukraine. „The participation of our closest partners today is a powerful political message on NATO’s continued commitment to Georgia and Ukraine“, said Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva. She reiterated Bulgaria’s support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the two countries. The Foreign Minister welcomed the Nagorno-Karabakh armistice and expressed her hope that it would be the first step toward a lasting solution to the crisis through the mediation of the Minsk Group. The teleconference connection was provided with the assistance of the Military Intelligence Service.