Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev (photo L) said, on Friday, he was honoured to be the first head of state paying an official visit to Romania since President Klaus Iohannis took over his term, pointing out that the two states want to tell their citizens they are friends and have a plan to deepen bilateral relations.
“I am glad to be the first head of state who is visiting the new President of Romania. It is an honour that the first official visit to Romania is at the start of your term. I wish you success in this regard,” Rosen Plevneliev said, in the joint statement made with President Iohannis.
He underscored that it he wishes to boost regional cooperation.
President Plevneliev: We want to tell Romanians, Bulgarians the two states are friends
“We have united our efforts today. We have seen how important the regional issue is. We want to give a new boost to regional cooperation, we want to tell Romanians and Bulgarians that the two states are friends, are good neighbours, partners and allies that we plan to deepen what we have obtained so far,” said Bulgaria’s President,quoted by Agerpres.
He mentioned that he wishes the deepening of the cooperation with Romania in all possible directions.
“In the last 10 years, Bulgaria and Romania have increased eight times their trade exchanges. Romania is today Bulgaria’s 3rd-biggest trading partner in the EU and the 4th in the world. We have obtained a great deal. One million Romanians are our guests in Bulgaria, 300,000 Bulgarians visit Romania and we want these numbers to grow. We are talking about energy connections in terms of natural gas, transport infrastructure, new bridges over the Danube and new energy projects. We have obtained a great deal together, but we can do much more,” Rosen Plevneliev said.
The situation in Ukraine and international issues were also on the agenda of the talks between the two heads of state.
“We want to deepen security and defence cooperation through joint exercises, in Romanian and Bulgarian bases. We realise that only integrated and together can we be efficient and successful,” Rosen Plevneliev showed.
Bulgaria’s President said that the two states want to be an engine of the European integration.
“We are impressed with your hospitality. We have a very strong motivation, firstly to discover new cooperation ways, to benefit from the European instruments, and Bulgaria and Romania, together, can be an engine of the European integration, prosperity and development. I am sure that, today, we are giving a boost to the Bulgarian-Romanian friendship both bilaterally, as well as regionally. We say that this region has a huge potential and we will find it together, in the interest of citizens,” he concluded.
Romania, Bulgaria meet the accession criteria to Schengen Area
The President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev also declared that delaying the adhesion of his country and of Romania to the Schengen Area would not be fair, as the two countries meet the criteria for joining this free movement space.
‘As regards the Schengen Area, time has come for fairness in this matter, too, just like it happened in other countries. Therefore, this year, we will join our efforts once more. We are already in a straight line and I do not expect a continued postponement for Bulgaria’s and Romania’s adhesion to Schengen; this is not fair and we do not deserve that. We are ready, and time has come for this decision,’ Plevneliev said at the Cotroceni Palace, where he met Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
The Bulgarian President stressed that Romania and Bulgaria meet the criteria for joining the Schengen Area; he mentioned that this step should not be linked to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism reports.
‘We say we definitely meet the criteria; the European Commission says the same, and the European Parliament has confirmed it. The Bulgarian border with Turkey is nowadays one of the most challenged, and we have significantly better results as outer border of the EU than many other EU member states. Our country has modern facilities and it does its job at the frontier. We do not expect and we cannot accept a link between the evaluation mechanism and the Schengen partnership; they are distinct instruments. They have nothing in common. We regret there are some European countries that condition these things, but this is not fair and we are convinced the European Parliament has provided a clear direction – Schengen is Schengen, CVM is CVM. The European Commission is a good partner,’ Plevneliev added.
Iohannis: Romania, Bulgaria will reiterate opportunity and justness of swift decision regarding Schengen accession
In his turn, President Klaus Iohannis stated that Romania and Bulgaria have convened upon supporting an active and constructive dialogue with the European partners on the topic of Schengen Area accession.
“We have convened upon supporting an active and constructive bilateral dialogue with the European partners to reiterate the arguments regarding the opportunity and justness of a swift decision regarding Schengen Area accession, given the fulfillment of all accession criteria”, said President Iohannis, during his joint press conference with Bulgarian counterpart Rosen Plevneliev.
Regarding the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, he stated that it is important that both countries concentrate on implementing the recommendations of the latest report.
President Iohannis: Romania, Bulgaria have as joint objective consolidating the collective defence within NATO
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Friday that Romania and Bulgaria have as joint objective consolidating the collective defence within NATO, given the context of the security challenges in the region.
He showed that the discussions with his Bulgarian counterpart focused also on the recent developments on the security agenda.
“Taking into consideration the security challenges in the region we have as joint objective the consolidation of the collective defence within NATO. We wish to increase the NATO presence on the territory of the member-states in the eastern flank, as well as increasing the reaction capacity of the Alliance. The need for unity in the foreign policy messages is fully understood by Bulgaria, that has maintained, in its turn the sanctions against the Russian Federation and the possibility of their extension in case the ceasefire is not respected. We are still counting on a solid relationship and I assure Mr. President Plevneliev of Romania’s wish to deepen the collaboration between our states”, said Iohannis at the Cotroceni Palace.
He emphasized that from the exchange of views emerged the fact that the two states can synchronize their efforts for a better promotion of their joint objectives both in the EU and on a regional level. Furthermore, ensuring the energy security of the Union, promoting regional cooperation and the common interest in the Danube region, the extended Black Sea region, the consolidation of the Union as a powerful global actor were aspects touched upon in the discussions between the two officials, according to Iohannis.
“The fact that he is the first head of state that I welcome in Bucharest since taking over my mandate is the expression of the very good ties that Romania and Bulgaria have as states that are neighbors, partners and allies in the EU and NATO. This first meeting allowed us to review the bilateral relations that are at a level of excellence on all cooperation tiers”, said Iohannis.
The head of state mentioned that potential that must be put to use was noted in all domains, but especially in the economic domain.
“We have both supported the development of this potential through the promotion of relevant projects especially in the energy, transportation, infrastructure, cross-border cooperation but also education and culture. I have supported the conduct of cultural and educational projects of the Bulgarian community in Romania and the Romanian community in Bulgaria and I have mentioned the particular attention that I grant to the members of the Romanian community in Bulgaria. I believe it is in mutual benefit to protect and promote national identity and rights that both minorities should enjoy”, Iohannis showed.