Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia to reshape the Balkans

Screen Shot 2019 04 01 at 11.16.05 am

Screen Shot 2019 04 01 at 11.16.05 am

The Prime Minister's of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia held a joint press conference on Friday in the Snagov Palace in Romania, following their meeting where they discussed issues of economic collaboration that will lead to a belt of interconnections among their countries.

During the press conference, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the belt would include northern Greece in the south; the linking of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania in the east; the linking of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia in the north; and the linking of Greece and Serbia in the west, through the Republic of North Macedonia.

"We are the Balkans' B4, the four Balkan countries that have the absolute desire to move forward in close cooperation for the benefit of co-development, cooperation, peace and prosperity for our peoples," said Tsipras.

The presidency of the Council of the EU - held by Romanian from January to June 2019 - is critical, Tsipras said, "because Europe is facing some important challenges".

Tsipras also announced that Greece will host the 8th Quadrilateral Summit - of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia - in the near future.

The Greek PM said that significant infrastructure will accelerate the trade among the countries and boost exports beyond, but will also facilitate movement of the citizens of the four countries. The foreseen infrastructure includes telecommunications and high-speed roads that will also boost tourism. Underlying all, however, Tsipras said, will be the idea of connected energy networks.

The Balkans is emerging as an energy hub that "redraws the energy map," said Tsipras, and referred to important interconnection projects among the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas.

Meanwhile, the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic called on Greece, Romania and Bulgaria to support his country's efforts to become a member of the EU, during joint statements of the four leaders at the completion on Friday of the 7th Quadrilateral Meeting in Snagov Palace, Romania.

Vucic said talks focused on energy issues and on the best way to connect natural gas networks as well as other energy resources. They also discussed infrastructure and in particular, highways that link Serbia with Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece, he said.

Bulgaria's president Boyko Borisov expressed the certainty on Friday that Greece and Bulgaria will sign a joint venture agreement for natural gas pipelines by June, in statements made at the joint press conference of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia outside of Bucharest.

Following the 7th quadrilateral meeting of the four countries, Borisov praised Serbia for the progress it had made in reforms and said he was fully prepared to sign a statement in support of its accession to the EU. It is very important for the EU to include Serbia in the EU, he noted.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, hosting the 7th quadrilateral meeting among Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia outside Bucharest, stressed on Friday the importance of interconnectivity in the sector energy, adding her support to similar statements by the other leaders during a joint press conference.

The joint Bucharest statement signed by the B4 leaders at the end of the meeting expresses the four countries' commitment to working together in order to create a region of prosperity that connects to European values, Dancila said.

The Romanian prime minister, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, spoke of Romania's priorities during its presidency and expressed support for the future EU membership of Serbia, as well as for that of other West Balkan countries already on an EU accession path.