Sofia Declaration

Meeting of the SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, Sofia, 14-15 June 2003

The Socialist International Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, meeting in Sofia on 14-15 June 2003,

1. Considering that the enlargement of the European Union (EU) is an historic event for the peoples and nations of Europe, who for the first time in their history achieve the goal of a Europe united in peace, democracy and equal dignity for all, SICEE:

- welcomes the conclusion of the European Convention with the adoption of a draft Constitution and a new institutional architecture;

- hopes that the proposal of the European Convention will be approved by the Intergovernmental Conference;

- underlines the importance for the European Union to adopt all the necessary financial and organisation measures in order to support and facilitate the integration of the new member countries;

- reaffirms that Bulgaria and Romania should join the EU in 2007, which would contribute to political and economic stability in the Balkans and in South Eastern Europe;

- stresses the need to give a clear and constructive response to the application of membership of Turkey;

- reaffirms the need to continue the strategy for Croatia’s accession to the EU and to open early negotiations to achieve this goal;

- requests that the EU define a road map to start a process of integration for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, following the decision of the European Council in Feira;

- considers that the enlargement of the EU calls for good cooperation with the neighbouring countries in the East: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, some of which could in the future express the desire to join the EU;

- underlines the importance of the next European elections which should give the opportunity to present to the public a common view of European socialists and social democrats.


2. Considering the strategic importance of the Balkans for stability, security and peace in Europe:

- welcomes with satisfaction the progress achieved in the process of stabilisation and peace in the Balkans;

- affirms that to guarantee peace and stability in the region, it is necessary in each country to ensure the legal and judicial system, the legal equality of all citizens, women and men, regardless of their ethnic origin, and a respect for their cultural and religious characteristics;

- reaffirms the need to regulate immigration whilst respecting the right to free circulation, and to combat illegal trafficking and all forms of crimes in order to ensure security, stability and growth;

- invites the international institutions to support and encourage the return of refugees and displaced persons of different countries;

- urges the international community, and in particular the EU, NATO and the UN, to maintain a strong commitment towards the full implementation of the Dayton peace agreements, of the national agreement for Macedonia, of the new constitutional framework of Serbia and Montenegro, and of the stabilisation process in Kosovo;

- encourages - in light of UN Resolution 1244 - an open dialogue on the future of Kosovo, based on the will of all citizens of Kosovo, on the respect of the rights of minorities and on the right to return of all refugees and displaced persons of Kosovo;

- welcomes the very important fact that the EU has directly assumed the peace-keeping initiative in Macedonia;

- urges the EU to promote policies and to prepare the necessary financial resources to support economic development and political stabilisation in the Balkans;

- calls on the Balkan States to develop all possible means of regional cooperation and integration among bordering countries, in order to create the best conditions for the integration of the Balkans in the EU;

- encourages socialist and social democratic parties to support policies for stabilisation and integration in the Balkans and underlines the importance of the Leaders' meeting called by the Socialist International in Tirana next September.

3. Expressing satisfaction for the role that socialist and social democratic parties have been playing in Central and Eastern Europe, including in many countries where they carry out governmental functions, SICEE:

- considers very essential the strengthening of the presence of democratic socialism also in Russia, in the CIS nations and in the Caucasus, and to this end, the Socialist International will take the necessary initiatives.