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Romania and Bulgaria are intensifying their cooperation in several fields.
Romania and Bulgaria will continue their common efforts for the adoption, this year, of the decision to join the Schengen Area. This was announced during the visit that the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, paid on Wednesday to Sofia. Klaus Iohannis was received by his Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev, and had talks about establishing a common strategy related to Schengen. On this occasion, the two heads of state also signed a Strategic Partnership declaration which provides, among other things, for the intensification of bilateral political dialogue, for the encouragement of economic exchanges and cross-border cooperation, as well as for ensuring energy security. Moreover, says Klaus Iohannis, through this Strategic Partnership, infrastructure projects related to transport and navigability on the Danube and to the field of green energy will advance. In this context, the two officials decided that the two neighboring states should prioritize the areas that correspond to their strategic interests, in order to ensure their resilience, economic development and security.
As to the Schengen free travel area, Klaus Iohannis reiterated that Romania and Bulgaria are ready for accession and explained that the two countries act responsibly to protect this area. The expansion is not related to the illegal migration at the external borders of the European Union, the Romanian president believes, and Romania and Bulgaria have repeatedly expressed their willingness to be part of the solutions for managing this challenge.
Klaus Iohannis: “The Schengen area refers to a European citizen's right to travel freely in the European Union states. Illegal migration is an entirely different issue. It is about people entering the European Union illegally and trying to cross from one state to another. For political reasons, these two issues are mixed up by some European politicians. It is an error, but we understand the difficulties of some European states in dealing with illegal migration. We are willing to participate in all the programs that can solve these issues.”
And the Bulgarian president reiterated that additional efforts will be made to speed up accession to the Schengen area. He showed that in the last months, the two countries have fought against the flow of illegal migrants, a flow that has decreased considerably.
Rumen Radev: ”We believe that this unjustified barrier, which was put in front of our countries, should not be used to solve internal problems or other problems within the European Union. Lifting this barrier, for which we will work together, will bring a great contribution and will answer to our citizens what equal rights in the European Union mean.”
In this context, he announced that he would propose to the European Union the setting up in Bulgaria of a working group to include representatives of social services from all the states that are influenced by the Balkan transit. We recall that in the Justice and Home Affairs Council of December 8, 2022, Romania and Bulgaria registered a failure regarding Schengen accession, although the two countries met all the necessary technical conditions. The opposition came from Austria and the Netherlands, the latter specifying that Bulgaria was not yet ready to enter Schengen. Austria blocked the accession amid concerns about illegal migration on the Balkan route. Romania rejected the accusations, which were also officially denied by the European institutions and Europol. (LS)
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