The first joint meeting of the Romanian and Bulgarian governments will take place by the end of the autumn in Sofia, the Romanian and Bulgarian foreign ministers announced on Thursday in Bucharest during a joint press conference occasioned by the Bulgarian Foreign Minister’s visit to Bucharest.
“We agreed on the importance of organizing this autumn, in Bulgaria, the joint meeting of the Romanian and Bulgarian governments. We plan to hasten the negotiations, to finalize the signing of several bilateral agreements and to move forward in developing several bilateral sectoral development projects,” Romanian Foreign Minister Corlatean stated, also mentioning the plan to build new bridges over the Danube.
“In April 2013 we are already registering a billion euro, hence on the rise, and that despite the economic crisis. This means the potential is really solid and we want to continue to capitalize on it. I would also like to point out that Romania is Bulgaria’s third-largest economic partner,” Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean stated.
“Our common desire is to enlarge this common spirit of good cooperation that exists between our countries, to try and coordinate a wider range of problems both on the common agenda but also at a regional and European level,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin stated in his turn.
The Bulgarian FM Vigenin also pointed to the fact that the delimiting of the maritime continental plateau of the Black Sea is a ‘problem’ in Bulgaria’s relation with Romania, but expressed his confidence it would be solved soon, having in view its ‘political and economic’ importance.
This joint government meeting was initially agreed in 2010 by former center-right premiers Emil Boc and Boiko Borisov and should have taken place in 2011, however the event no longer took place. The idea was rekindled this summer by Premier Victor Ponta and his Bulgarian counterpart Plamen Oresarski, during a visit that the Romanian official paid to Sofia on the occasion of a reunion of socialist parties.
Bulgarian FM: Sofia protests won’t be a burden for Romania
Romania and Bulgaria will coordinate in order to continue their lobby for the Schengen accession, the two foreign ministers pointed out. The Bulgarian foreign minister stated that Sofia does not worry that street protests might affect the Schengen accession decision expected by the end of this year, and from this point of view Bulgaria will not be a burden for Romania.
“We will do our part, our job, to prepare and to continue to work very seriously on the Schengen accession and there is no reason to believe the situation in Bulgaria will affect a possible decision by the end of the year in what concerns Schengen,” Vigenin stated, being quoted by Mediafax.
The Bulgarian minister added that EU member states have transmitted through informal contacts that they appreciate the commitments announced by the Bulgarian government in this sense.
“It’s a tradition for Romania and Bulgaria to be together in what concerns Schengen. We assume and know our importance and we will not create a situation in which Bulgaria would be a problem for Romania’s accession, in other words would encumber Romania, and we expect the same thing from Romania. We will coordinate our positions,” the Bulgarian official stated.
Likewise, the two ministers reiterated that the two countries fulfill the technical accession requirements, a fact recognized by the European Commission and most member states, and expressed their confidence that a decision concerning the two countries’ two-stage accession to the Schengen Area will be taken at the JHA Council by the end of the year, with the airports being included in the first stage.
In his turn, Romanian FM Titus Corlatean pointed out that Bucharest and Sofia will coordinate in the following period in order to convince “the few capitals that had question marks.”
“It’s an important goal, it’s a legitimate goal, it is left for the entirety of EU member states to respect their side of the commitment concerning the Treaty and European treaties when the candidate states to this accession have fulfilled and met their part of the responsibility. (…) I believe we are moving forward step by step in the right direction, obviously we still have work to do, but we have to be positive and confident,” Corlatean said. “I would like to express, on behalf of the Romanian government, the full appreciation for the efforts and entire activity of the Bulgarian government which recently, legitimately won, following free legitimate elections, and to underline that the Romanian government has a partner that it greatly respects in Sofia and we are willing to work together,” Corlatean added.
The decision concerning Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession timetable was postponed during the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council in March, following the opposition shown by Germany, Netherlands and Finland, which pointed out that they expect Bucharest and Sofia to first make more progress within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. The next European Commission CVM report for the two countries is expected in December this year.