9:35 PMBucharest: Craiova Group, the seventh meeting dedicated to strengthening the Southeast European block
By Constantin Radut
The seventh meeting of the Craiova Group took place in Bucharest. At the meeting was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister of Romania, Mrs. Viorica Dăncilă, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The viability of the Craiova Group's existence is illustrated by the fact that on the agenda of the Belgrade meeting there were a multitude of projects and initiatives to strengthen regional economic cooperation and the support the European integration of the Western Balkan states. What is Craiova Group?
The Craiova Group is a collaborative project of four European countries - Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia - for the purpose of furthering their European integration as well as economic, transport and energy cooperation with each other. The Group originated in a summit meeting of the heads of government of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, held on 24 April 2015 in the Romanian city of Craiova in southern Romania.
At the group's inaugural meeting, Romania's then-Prime Minister Victor Ponta indicated that he was inspired by the Visegrád Group. Romania and Bulgaria both joined the European Union on 1 January 2007, while Serbia has been in accession negotiations since January 2014. Since October 2017, the meetings have been quadrilateral since the October 2017 meeting in Varna, Bulgaria.
One of the first initiatives, after a meeting in Vidin, Bulgaria, was to strengthen the telecommunication networks in the border regions of the countries. Other goals include helping Serbia join the European Union and the construction of a motorway linking Bucharest, Sofia and Belgrade. On 2 November 2018, Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov said that Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras proposed a joint bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup by Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Greece during the meeting in Thessaloniki.
At the Bucharest meeting, the Heads of State and Government of the four countries signed a joint statement reiterating their agreement to the EU enlargement process. "In the current debate on the future of the Union, we support a constructive future-oriented perspective and a continued commitment to the enlargement process.
The future of Europe and the goal of strengthening the EU's role as a global player are closely linked to the EU's ability to promote stability and prosperity in its immediate neighborhood, "reads the joint statement. It has been stressed that the four states attach great importance to the further development of regional and cross-border cooperation between our states in order to strengthen the territorial cohesion of the border regions, their competitiveness and sustainability through mutually beneficial projects. We reaffirm our support for regional projects of common interest, particularly in transport, energy, information and communication technology, as well as youth and sport, to promote the overall development and connectivity of the region.
We will continue our efforts to develop the transport routes between our countries and the expansion of the TEN-T network in South East Europe, with a special focus on the West-East and North-South transport corridors. We underline the importance of a macro-regional approach to stimulate growth and job creation, including in the framework of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), the Third Sea Initiative (I3M) and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region EUSAIR).
"We will continue our joint efforts to diversify sources, routes and suppliers to develop mutually agreed gas and electricity infrastructure projects within the framework of the Central and South Eastern Gas Connection Group (CESEC) and the Energy Community.
We agreed to look at how to set up a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) to promote cooperation in South East Europe, "reads in the joint statement.