President Klaus Iohannis declared on Wednesday in Sofia that Romania and Bulgaria will actively continue endeavors for the decision regarding the two Schengen hopefuls joining the passport-free area to be adopted this year, pointing out that the two states are ready for this.
“As far as the European agenda is concerned, we have of course approached our countries’ common goal for the advancement of the Schengen accession process. We have agreed to actively continue endeavors to ensure the adoption this year of the admission decision for the two countries. Romania and Bulgaria are ready to join – we have proven it through our actions – and they are acting responsibly to protect the Schengen Area. (…) Our states, Romania and Bulgaria, are perfectly prepared to join the Schengen. We meet all the requirements of the Schengen acquis,” the Romanian head of state said after the meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev.
Iohannis emphasized that even if the enlargement is not related to illegal migration at EU’s external borders, Romania and Bulgaria have expressed their willingness to be part of the solutions for managing this challenge.
“We acknowledge the problems faced by some of the member states, but they must be worked out in a constructive manner and through open dialogue, as part of the European approach. The measures adopted at the last European Council meeting are important steps in this direction,” the Romanian president said.
Iohannis emphasized that Schengen is a free movement area and specified that “illegal migration is something completely different”, but “for political reasons certain European politicians mix these two issues up”.
“We will do everything in our power, and we have this capability, to curb illegal migration in order to thus support our partners and friends who are faced with the phenomenon of illegal migration and have certain difficulties in controlling it. In return, we demand the recognition of our right to be part of the Schengen and we hope to receive this year a positive vote to this effect,” Iohannis said, according to Agerpres.
We consider that this unjustified barrier that was raised in front of our countries should not be used to solve internal problems or other inner problems of the EU. The fastest effect if this barrier is lifted – and we will work together for this – is that it will provide new momentum and a response to our citizens about equal rights in the EU, President Rumen Radev said in his turn.
We are the borders of the European Union and we see that the [migrant] flow has decreased. We have taken security measures at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey, something that hasn’t been done for years in Bulgaria, but is now being intensively implemented and with great success. Migrants were tracked and detained even inside the country. This is clear proof that we are actively fighting illegal migration and not just that, said Rumen Radev.
He specified that the EU proposes the creation in Bulgaria of a task force with representatives of social services from all the countries affected by the transit of migrants via the Balkans for the organization of joint actions, and also for covering the expenses with the capture if illegals, because these are very high amounts, the Bulgarian president also said.
Romanian-Bulgarian relationship raised to the level of Strategic Partnership
President Klaus Iohannis and his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev on Wednesday signed the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership between Romania and Bulgaria.
According to the Presidential Administration, the Strategic Partnership Declaration is aimed at intensifying bilateral political dialogue, encouraging economic exchanges and cross-border cooperation, improving connectivity and infrastructure between the two countries, promoting projects dedicated to the development of the Danube region, ensuring energy security, promoting green energy.
The document also refers to cooperation in the area of European affairs, as well as enhanced cooperation in defence and security, in the context of the numerous difficulties caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, to further ensure support for Kyiv, the strengthening of NATO’s Eastern flank and the restoration of a climate of security in the Black Sea region.
Romania and Bulgaria need more connectivity
Romania and Bulgaria need more connectivity, president Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday in Sofia, stressing that the Strategic Partnership signed by the two countries will advance transport infrastructure, navigability on the Danube and energy projects.
“From our discussions, the common desire emerged to use the new partnership framework to advance and complete major projects in the field of connectivity, in particular in terms of transport infrastructure and navigability on the Danube and energy. In this context, I underlined the importance of continuing the dialogue between our authorities in order to make faster progress in the implementation of the European FAST DANUBE project, given the role that ensuring navigability on the Danube has for both countries and the multiplied positive effects that it can generate, as well as that of infrastructure projects,” said president Klaus Iohannis, on an official visit to Bulgaria, after the meeting with his counterpart Rumen Radev.
The Romanian president said he had agreed with the Bulgarian president that Romania and Bulgaria should give priority to pursuing those areas that correspond to their strategic interests in order to ensure their resilience, economic development and security.
Iohannis highlighted the substantial trade with Bulgaria, pointing out that in the first ten months of last year it amounted to around 10 billion euros.
“We will work together to better exploit the potential of economic and sectoral cooperation, as well as to diversify cooperation in sectors such as regional development and digitalisation,” the Romanian president added.
According to him, Romanians in Bulgaria and Bulgarians in Romania are a bridge between the two countries’ societies.
“In this regard, we are interested in continuing the dialogue on ensuring full conditions for the expression of their cultural, linguistic and religious identity,” Klaus Iohannis said.
The talks between the two officials also focused on the EU’s enlargement policy: “We reiterated Romania’s support for advancing the enlargement of the Union, both with regard to the Western Balkans and to our Eastern partners. We highlighted, in particular, the support that Romania has given and will continue to give for the advancement of the European path of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. I would also like to stress the importance of the European Union and our partners’ firm support for the stability and resilience of the Republic of Moldova in the face of the security challenges it faces. We also count on Bulgaria’s support in this regard,” president Iohannis added.
The head of state stressed the importance of coordination at European level in terms of the challenges on the energy market, in particular with regard to security of supply and strengthening energy independence.
“We have agreed to intensify our bilateral cooperation in order to identify new opportunities in the context of the energy transition, with a focus on green energy,” Iohannis said.
The talks also covered the Russian aggression against Ukraine. “Romania is determined to continue its substantial and comprehensive multidimensional support to Ukraine, which will continue as long as it is needed,” President Iohannis said.
He stressed that in the context of current security developments, Bulgaria is a key ally of Romania in NATO and a key partner on the Black Sea.
“I discussed with president Radev the intensification of bilateral security cooperation,” the head of state added.
The upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius was also on the agenda.
“In July we will meet in Vilnius to assess the implementation of the decisions adopted in Madrid on the Allied posture and to agree on additional relevant measures to strengthen the security of the Allies and in particular of the Allies on the Eastern flank, with a focus on the Black Sea. I agreed today with President Radev that we need to work more and better together in order to maintain security and stability in the Black Sea, which is of strategic interest for the entire alliance,” president Iohannis added.
Iohannis: The drone incident over Black Sea is serious and regrettable
President Klaus Iohannis declared, on Wednesday, in Sofia, that the drone incident that took place on Tuesday is a “serious” and “regrettable” one.
“The drone incident that took place yesterday is a serious and regrettable incident. The official communication about these issues is made by the American side”, said the head of state, who is on an official visit to Bulgaria, after the meeting with his counterpart, Rumen Radev.
Iohannis was asked what are the security implications of this incident, which happened on Tuesday evening, over the Black Sea. A Su-27 fighter jet of the Russian forces hit the propeller of an American military Reaper surveillance drone.
The president of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, added that this incident increases the security risk.
“We must be careful and proactive about what is happening, I am talking about the Russian aggression on Ukraine. This conflict is growing into a global, economic conflict. We must not transform all of this. If this conflict continues, over time it will expand territorially. So these conflicts will expand. You see the explosion that happened on the interconnector, the death of many civilians, now as well the incident with this drone over the Black Sea. This should tell us that every day that there is a war increases the risk not only for our economies and social systems, but also the risk of guaranteeing our peace and security. That is why, at the same time with the support we give to Ukraine we are trying to stop these conflicts”, said Rumen Radev.