BULGARIA AND THE BALKANS' FUTURE
Bulgaria walked a long way over the last 15 years. It is already a full-fledged member of NATO and expects to join the European Union (EU) in 2007. The country presides the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and its foreign policy is directed to assisting the establishment of a regional format for the accession to NATO of Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. That was underlined by Foreign Minister Solomon Passy during the opening of the 2-day international conference, titled Bulgaria's Membership in NATO and EU and the Euroatlantic Future of the Balkans, held in Sofia, November 25 and 26. The Balkans do not have problems that cannot be solved by political means. That is why the focus is mainly directed to the opportunities of foreign policy of the countries in the region. Bulgaria doesn't have the potential to prevent the factors that influence various regional problems, but it is able to help solve some of them, such as the name of the Republic of Macedonia, the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Serbia and Montenegro, to the Partnership for Peace initiative, as well as the development of the situation in Kosovo, reads the expert report which the participants in the forum listened to. Bulgaria's national interest and the country's strategic targets in international relations are practically based on two foreign political priorities: NATO and EU. Therefore, a balance is necessary, which depends on the quality of transatlantic relations, experts are adamant. Logics predetermine the ever growing presence of the EU in the region. That is why the establishment of a separate economic or trade bloc in the Balkans is meaningless. However, opportunities should be created for the expansion of trade, improvement of infrastructure, development of the energy market, transport, border networks, and introduction of visa comfort on the territory of the Balkans, it was specified during the discussion.