CONCLUDING ADDRESSof theSECRETARY GENERAL OF THE RCC
Tirana, December 4, 2007
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start these concluding remarks by stressing how important it was for me, and I am sure for all of us, to participate in these final meetings of the Stability Pact Working Tables. Thanks to our generous Albanian host we have been provided with excellent conditions for a very valuable work and I want to thank again the Albanian Government for its support - the words of commitment and strong determination to continue with the reforms and shared responsibility for the future of South East Europe are precisely what we need at this point.
And we truly need it – the discussions and exchange of views during these two days surely confirmed that, as we continue with the transformation of the SP to the RCC and from the “outside ownership” to the genuine regional ownership, we need to preserve and enhance the regional cooperation.
SEE countries will, for sure, continue to advance towards the Euro-Atlantic structures. They will do it by the standard or accelerated fulfilment and implementation of the institutional roadmaps of EU negotiations. They will follow the acquis, they will fight benchmarks, they will change and reform to acquire a better status – as, for example, Bosnia and Herzegovina just did it, and I want to congratulate on initialling the SAA. In a word, they will advance to meet the expectations of their citizens as much as their governments and political elites will exercise their political and, I dare say, historical responsibilities.
But in the same time, we will have to remain committed to the regional cooperation. Not as a technical benchmark. Not as a political condition from the outside. Not even just as a continuation of enormous political and social changes in the SEE general environment made possible by the invaluable work of the Stability Pact over the years. Not even as an instrument by which those who are more advanced on the EU road could assist those who are catching up so that the diversity can contribute to the prosperity.
Yes, all of this, but also more.
We need this cooperation to open up, to move SEE forward, to move away from the old mindsets, to give perspective, to modernize our societies, to give a chance to new generations and to avoid any inwardness and isolation.
And, as someone said yesterday, let us not forget that the human and cultural diversity of South East Europe provides us with a heritage that markedly overruns the shadowy stereotypes of the past and stigmas of our recent history.
This only increases our responsibilities. And this is precisely where the enhancement of the spirit of cooperation must be embraced and enhanced. This is where, in particular in the face of immediate developments and open issues that will be with us soon, a vision and statesmanship will be needed.
The permanent commitment and support of the European Union and international community will also be needed. In the transformation of the cooperation ownership, from the SP to the RCC, even more vigorous political synergy will be necessary. Because, if you allow me, after the Stability Pact, we need to prove that the RCC is not and will be neither a substitute to the accession and membership, nor a regional pressure group. Jointly with the Union - and I want to thank the European Commission for its full engagement and assistance – we are to continue to build the SEE cooperation architecture as part of a broader European cooperative network, spreading from the Baltic to the Adriatic, and from the Black Sea to the Atlantic in the new undivided Europe.
I feel an urge to stress this aspect at this particular point in time for SEE.
As we are standing at the crossing line between the Stability Pact and the RCC, so is the region at the historical crossroads again.
Times are delicate and decisive.
We are entering a period when future regional security and stability architecture will be shaped once again.
We will all benefit from realism, cautiousness, calmness, solidarity and mutual understanding and support in this period.
We share joint responsibility not to allow the region to lapse back into uncertainties or instability, or prolonged economic and social stagnation, or prolonged crisis spot or contest ground for a bigger power play.
Many members of the SEECP area have already lost too much time. We need to formulate a joint catch-up policy. Loosing time again would be disastrous.
In this political setting and against this present and immediate political background we need to continue to build the RCC house. The Stability Pact provided a solid basic construction. Now, time has come to move forward, to take the wheel in our hands.
The SEECP Zagreb Summit confirmed the readiness and the will of our Governments to do just that. The Bulgarian active Chairmanship-in-Office continues to prove this orientation. Complementarity and strategic synergy with the EU and the Commission prove that we are on the right course. Transformation of ownership and set-up of the RCC structure in Sarajevo in a way that will plug-in the SP legacy, the SEECP Agenda priorities and the EU strategic policies in the SEE will ensure the timely and effective operational beginning of the work of the RCC.
This is even more important against the background of the immediate political perspective. Therefore, I would urge all Governments and institutions in SEE to continue to actively participate in the RCC formation process and to look at the regional cooperation concept in the long-term, strategic way.
The discussions and conclusions of these two days have provided us with a very timely input as we prepare the platform and the work programme of the RCC.
A lot of ground has been covered already, so as to have the RCC operational by the end of February, in Sarajevo, following the Ministerial Meeting in Sofia on February 27. Considerable legal, administrative and financial operations are underway as the basis for opening the RCC Secretariat, including the recruitment and staffing, based on the national representation and high knowledge and expertise.
I am fully aware that this is an endeavour of no precedence in recent history of SEE.
I am also aware that this is a project that has no alternative.
Therefore, with its challenging agenda inherited from the Stability Pact, and also from the new ideas, needs and initiatives coming from within the SEECP area, the Regional Cooperation Council is bound to rely upon the commitment and support by each and every government and organization around this table. I count on your support. I can guarantee the RCC will be a dedicated and hardworking partner.