Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 22

INSIDE EUROPE much higher degree of protection from the EU, especially given the hesitant position of the United States. PESCO, the defence co-operation mechanism is yet to be fi lled with content. None of the 17 projects for joint actions in medical insurance, logistics or crisis response has been initiated by Bulgaria. If, however, it wants to contribute to European defence and security, as a rotating president, Sofi a will have the chance to organize the consultative formats of the 25 PESCO member states. If the European defence does not move forward in the fi rst six months of its existence, this will question all the otherwise good intentions. The more ‘militarised’ side of the debate on European defence is France’s European Interventions Initiative (EII). This endeavour is supposed to enhance a common strategic culture across Europe, and, as the name suggests, make European deterrence a more realistic one. Bulgaria will probably not be part of this smaller group of countries but should not be hindering its development in 2018. The big question mark here will be whether Germany will actively participate in EII and involve its strong military capabilities, its ground forces – this will probably shape the view towards EII by other more ‘pacifi st’ nations like Bulgaria. Common Solutions on Migration The fears of Europeans on this topic are the greatest, which is why it will continue to drive political decisions in 2018. And if the predictions of newly increased migratory pressure on the Balkan route turn out to be true, reaching an agreement among all member states will become the fi rst priority of the EU - and of the rotating presidency. The German government under Merkel’s leadership will have to show to its constituency that it is not alone in dealing with migration, and Italy - that it is not forever abandoned by Europe on this issue. Poland and Hungary, with almost no refugees from the Near East on their territory, will continue to deny every relocation system. Against this background, Bulgaria will have to carefully look for an area where an agreement is possible. This decision is likely to be a combination of border management and a scheme for quicker return of immigrants whose asylum applications have been denied. Implementing solutions for dealing with the root causes will have to wait for the longer term. From a national perspective, what Bulgaria wants to get out of the conversation about borders will be a partial membership in Schengen: getting the air borders (relevant for the Bulgarian citizens) lifted, and not the land and see borders, where the pressure from third-country nationals would mount, is what Sofi a has aimed for quite some time. Bringing Back the Western Balkans on the EU agenda This task seems easy to execute given the scheduled Western Balkans Summit on 17th May in Sofi a. But the ambition to move our neighbouring countries closer to their membership will probably have no signifi cant realization. That is why the summit in May must show concrete results outside the expansion process. Roaming and Corridor No. 8 are modest, but suffi ciently concrete goals. However, if the Bulgarian Presidency is really ambitious in this area, it will have to fi nd a way to include the Western Balkans in the discussions on important topics, such as European defence and migration. But even if it does not succeed in the “aerobatic fl ight” of strategic thinking for its European policy, through the 20 • Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida