After the fall of the Berlin Wall, on our path to rejoin Free World, we were haunted by Socrates’ famous question: Did we arrive after the feast was over, post festum?

July 9, 1997

The speech was delivered at the NATO summit in Madrid where the Bulgarian President Stoyanov stated for the first time the unwavering determination of Bulgaria to join NATO.

Mr Chair,

Ladies and gentlemen,

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, on our path to once again join the Free World, we were haunted by Socrates’ famous question: Did we arrive after the feast was over, post festum?
Today we can say that the celebration of the Euro-Atlantic world is just beginning and there is room in it for every nation that demonstrates its desire and will to be part of it! I would not hesitate to call the Madrid summit a historic event. As was the Marshall Plan. As was the founding of NATO. They remain in history because they took into account the lessons of the past and at the same time looked to the future.

Our assessment of the significance of the Madrid Summit cannot be overshadowed even by the sincere regret that my country is not among the first East European countries to be invited to become a full member of the Alliance. This, despite the solid Bulgarian arguments and the will of the Bulgarian people which is no less than that of the other Eastern European nations. I can assure you that we will accept this decision without dramatizing it and with the wisdom and dignity of our millennial history.

Democracy in Bulgaria is mature enough. It has already suffered the maladies that follow any post-totalitarian transition and is now immune to them. Our aspiration to be part of the Euro-Atlantic community is unconditional and our goal is strategic, and the political class of Bulgaria will do everything possible to transform the public energy of expectation into even more intensive efforts. We will not be despondent.

We share the Atlantic values and it is our ambition to participate in their development and protection. This is our civilizational choice, deeply motivated and irreversible. We know what still needs to be done and we will not stop halfway.

I will be extremely candid: the Bulgarian people want a clear political perspective and reasonable deadlines for their full membership.

Half a century ago, Yalta separated Bulgaria from its natural European environment. The frontier between the Warsaw Pact and NATO ran along its border. Bulgaria sees no reason to have more borders separating it from the union. And I believe that this desire is mutual.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Contemporary geopolitical logic requires undivided security and supposes the completion of NATO’s southern flank. By the way, I would not be surprised if in the near future it gets its Black Sea dimension. Geographically and culturally, Bulgaria has always been part of Europe, so without it, Euro-Atlantic security would not be complete.

In conclusion, let me wish success to the first countries invited to full membership. Their accession to the Union will also be a success for the entire new NATO alliance. It will also be our achievement, because it will bring us closer to full membership.

Thank you for your attention and thanks to the organizers of this historic event.

February 1997.
Petar Stoyanov and Javier Solana
at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe in Brussels