President of Bulgaria calls on EU for fair treatment in country's entry bid

Bulgaria's president warned Friday that internal problems within the European Union might block the country's timely entry into the bloc and he asked for fair treatment. "Some (EU member) states ... are getting reserved (when it comes to) enlargement," Georgi Parvanov told lawmakers in a speech to mark his fourth year in office. "I hope these countries will understand that delaying our entry will not solve the problems of the union." Parvanov was referring to the inability of EU institutions to reach a deal on the 25-member bloc's long-term budget and of the stalled process of adopting a EU constitution considered crucial for ensuring a smooth enlargement.

Bulgaria aims to join the EU next year, but the union has said it could delay its entry by a year if reforms in the judiciary and administration are not put into place.

"We'll go on successfully working on EU requirements," Parvanov said. "All we want is to see the bloc judging our bid in the same way it judged the 10 new members."

The 10 countries most of them from the former Soviet bloc joined the EU in 2004.

Bulgaria and Romania are scheduled to join the EU in 2007, but the bloc has yet to decide whether to delay their entry timetable for 2008, reports the AP.

D.M.