The open door policy has been upheld: What are possible options?
Published: 07/12/2022

This text is a transcript of a speech by Dr. Passy at the high-level event Balkan and Black Sea Perspectives 2022, which took place on 7th of December 2022 in Rome.

Before delving into the main topic of this conversation, I would like to briefly discuss three significant events that have occurred since the last NATO Defense College Foundation conference dedicated to the Balkans and the Black Sea, in 2021. First of all, the new role that Italy has assumed in NATO security arrangements, especially
in Bulgaria. My congratulations and gratitude to Italy for its leadership.

Second, the parallels between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hitler and
Stalin’s invasion of Poland in 1939. I could not have imagined that it was possible.

The third and last point on my list is the recent news that represents a true
acknowledgement of the current situation on a worldwide scale: Ukrainian President
Zelenskiy was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine.

Let us now turn our attention to the main topic of this panel: inclusion. The concept of inclusion was brought up in our discussion since it is considered relevant in removing root causes of instability in the region. According to my assessment, three main roots can be listed: Russia, China, and especially populism, which goes hand in hand with propaganda. Nowadays, populism and propaganda are the two biggest enemies of democracy. This has essentially not changed since Socrates was sentenced to death because of showing deficiencies in democracy.

What is our greatest asset? Our unity is our strength and our division is our weakness. The first aim of our enemy is to divide us. Divide et Impera has been a working slogan for centuries, if not millennia. Therefore, our first aim is moving the world forward, rather than backward. Our first goal is to unite behind NATO, the EU and all of its institutions, including the Eurozone and the Schengen Area, with which Bulgaria has some challenges to overcome. However, given the existing realities, we require working solutions, and concrete, practical measures.

Cohesion between NATO and the EU, in my opinion, is crucial and this is much more likely and pertinent after Sweden and Finland are candidates to join the Alliance. In the EU, we currently need a rule establishing that new members can only join if they also join NATO. The Alliance should be advantaged for EU membership and this applies to countries such as North Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro.

To conclude, before proposing concrete solutions for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is important to identify our main issues with Russia and China. The Kremlin represents the immediate threat — the one which takes our immediate attention but occupies it permanently. However, this does not permit us, the West, to focus on the long term strategic threats. The major problem with China is that we do not know China and China is not in a hurry. China is the only country that can build a road today, that will not be used until 100 years. This is a strategy for which Europe is unprepared. Our thinking is four years ahead until the next elections, while China’s thinking is possibly four centuries ahead until it conquers the world. For this reason, I am convinced that we must provide the next generation with a clear perspective about the biggest challenges they will face and how to address them.