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President Radev at the meeting of the Arraiolos group

Addressing the 14th meeting of the heads of State of the Arraiolos Group in Riga, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev urged the EU to focus on problems of security related to processes in the EU. Radev said the European Union needs a much more efficient decision-making mechanism, especially in crisis situations. 

The forum for political dialogue brings together the heads of state of 14 EU member countries: Portugal, Germany, Latvia, Finland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Malta, Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece. This year's meeting is dedicated to aspects of security.

The Bulgarian head of State noted that even at times of crisis affecting all EU members, the EU does not always succeed in being united and seeking for a sustainable long-term solution. According to him, this is particularly true of migration. "If we put all our efforts into turning Europe into a fortress and we ignore the reasons for migration we risk losing that fortress." The EU should support the development of education, culture and social stability in the countries from which migrants originate, noted the President.

He urged the EU members to reconsider the established approaches to security which also depends on the ability of the EU to stand for its positions on the international stage. According to Radev, without adequate defence capabilities, the EU is unable to guarantee the security of the EU members in neghbouring regions which continue to generate risks and trigger migrant waves.

Radev and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos rallied behind the idea that Bulgaria and Greece share a responsibility to strengthen stability in Southeastern Europe and to promote good neighbourly relations in the region. They met on the sidelines of the meeting on Thursday.

The Balkan EU members should be much more active when forming the European integration in the region, the two heads of state noted. The implementation of the EU perspective for the countries in the Balkans which strive for full-fledged membership of the EU is a process which requires support, a clear political will and genuine reforms.

President Radev was categorical that a fragmentation of the region should be avoided if tensions arise between countries in Southeastern Europe.

Radev and Pavlopoulos outlined a positive trend growing bilateral trade between Bulgaria and Greece which exceeded 3 billion euro in 2017. According to President Radev, the encouraging signals that the Greek economy is recovering will boost both bilateral trade and the economic exchange in the region. 

President Radev also held a bilateral meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. The rallied around the idea that countries on the EU external borders such as Bulgaria and Italy need solidarity and active support from their partners with regard to migration. The two were unanimous that without a common EU approach this issue will continue to divide EU countries. 

The two heads of State agreed that Bulgaria and Italy will continue to advance their partnership in the area of defence and security. The meeting took stock of Italy's contribution to the modernization of the Bulgarian armed forces and the significance of the active bilateral exchange which totals 4 billion euro.

Italian President Mattarella accepted Radev's invitation to visit Bulgaria for the opening of an Italian culture centre. 

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