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Foreign relations of Bulgaria

Bulgaria has generally good relations with its neighbors and has proved to be a constructive force in the region under socialist and democratic governments alike. Promoting regional stability, Bulgaria hosted a Southeast European Foreign Ministers meeting in July 1996 and an OSCE conference on Black Sea cooperation in November 1995. Bulgaria also participated in the 1996 South Balkan Defense Ministerial in Albania and is active in the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative.

With their close historical, cultural, and economic ties, Bulgaria seeks a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia, on which it is largely dependent for energy supplies. Sporadic negotiations are underway among Greece, Bulgaria, and Russia for construction of a gas pipeline from Burgas on the Black Sea to Alexandropolis to transport Caspian Sea oil.

Bulgaria's EU Association Agreement came into effect in 1994, and Bulgaria formally applied for full EU membership in December 1995. During the 1999 U summit in Helsinki the country was invited to start membership talks with the Union, currenly almost completed and January 1, 2007 has been set as Bulgaria's accession date. In 1996, Bulgaria acceded to the Wassenaar Arrangement controlling exports of weapons and sensitive technology to countries of concern and also was admitted to the World Trade Organization. Bulgaria is a member of the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. After a period of equivocation under a socialist government, in March 1997 a UDF-led caretaker cabinet applied for full NATO membership, which the current government is pursuing as a priority and will most likely become a reality in May 2004.

Bulgaria joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1994 and applied for NATO membership in 1997. During the November 2002 Prague Summit Bulgaria was one of seven former socialist countries invited to join the Alliance. Protocol ratifications are underway and it is expected to become a member of NATO in May 2004. The country is also working toward NATO compatibility in communications and training, and has established a Peacekeeping Training Center.

In 2003, Bulgaria was elected as a non-permament member of the UN Security Council, proving to be one of 3 closest U.S. allies during the Iraqi Crisis, together with the U.K. and Spain. Bulgaria will also preside the OSCE in 2004.

Illicit drugs: Major European transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals

See also : Bulgaria

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