On 24th of April, a new group for cooperation – the Craiova Group was established in the Romanian city of Craiova, located near Bulgarian and Serbian borders. The trilateral meeting was attended by the Prime ministers of Romania (Victor Ponta), Bulgaria (Boyko Borisov) and Serbia (Aleksandar Vucic).
The idea of the group was put forward by V. Ponta and, in his opinion, was inspired by the Visegrad Four as well as already begun, collective projects in the field of infrastructure, energy and other key sectors for the economic development of the three countries. The Craiova Group will be an informal platform for cooperation and at present no agreement will be signed. All three prime ministers pointed that the group has been established against any other states and it aims to solve common problems of the three countries, whose population amounts to 40 million people. The Romanian Prime Minister stated that the three countries will be open for cooperation with Moldova and Hungary as well as to other countries from the region.
One of the main spoken topics was the Serbian’s path to the European Union. Bulgaria and Romania categorically support Serbia’s wish to be part of the EU. “Together with Romania, we are ready to help in every way,” Boyko Borisov said. “The strife – behind us; peace ahead. Let’s build, invest in energy efficiency, in buildings. Mayors and prime ministers, let’s work together to prepare our cities to be cultural and sport capitals.” Victor Ponta added that “it is in the interest of Bulgaria and Romania that Serbia would start negotiations as soon as possible, complete them and join us in the European family.” “Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia are friends and have common goals and projects. Together, we can be much stronger, we can ensure a better life and more secure future for our people and countries.” Victor Ponta shares this point of view – Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accessions are the most important decision the two countries have ever made.
Regarding the Shengen Area, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that Romania and Bulgaria must accede to the Schengen area together as the EU and NATO members and not separately. “There are specific topics, such as the accession to the Schengen area, where, sometime ago Bulgaria was told to enter alone, without Romania. Now Romania is told to join it alone, without Bulgaria. I don’t believe in these things! I believe that only together we shall join Schengen, only together we shall lift the Verification and Cooperation Mechanism, not Romania first and then Bulgaria, or Bulgaria first and then Romania.”
Infrastructure projects were also not forgotten. Boyko Borisov said that he wishes to see a motorway ring Bucharest – Sofia – Belgrade. He also spoke about the connection between Sofia and the Romanian interior through the town of Calafat. The Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic added that “the highway Belgrade – Nis – Pirot – Dimitrovgrad to the Bulgarian border will be completed by the end of 2016. “ Vucic also expects the work on the highway linking Belgrade and Timisoara to begin next year.Prime Ministers agreed that they need alternative energy sources to enter the global market.