II. Joining the EU
II.1. From the outset of relations with the European Community until the Helsinki Summit (1988 – 1999)
The signing of a Joint Declaration for establishing diplomatic relations between the European Community (EC) and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), in June 1988, is generally regarded as the beginnin...
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...position was strengthened even more. The European Summit in Helsinki, in December 1999, decided to invite Bulgaria to open accession negotiations with the EU in February 2000. Although the European Council recognized the important progress that Bulgaria had made fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria , the decision to invite Sofia to begin negotiations was to a large extend a political decision. Firstly, because following the events in former Yugoslavia, there was growing concern that the whole region could be destabilized, and there was a need to support countries like Bulgaria and Romania, which was also invited to begin accession negotiations in February 2000 . The second reason had to do with France’s insistence to invite Romania. From the moment that Romania had been invited, it would have been highly insulting to Bulgaria to leave it outside and not to invite it .
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