Bulgaria and Romania Twenty Years Later
Bulgaria and Romania were accepted as EU members in 2007 largely for geopolitical reasons, even though they could not assume fully the rights and obligations of membership. EU membership was a reward for overthrowing authoritarian rule as it had been in Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s. Bulgaria duly allowed NATO to use its airspace in the 1999 bombing of the former Yugoslavia to stop “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo by the Milosevic regime. At the same time Bulgaria refused Russian demands for logistical support. British Prime Minister Tony Blair consequently took the lead in pressing for a positive response to their EU applications at the Helsinki European Council in 1999. Romania was strongly supported by France, with which it had long-standing ties.