German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated his support for Bulgaria and Romania’s membership in the Schengen Zone, considering the expansion of the borderless area an important concern for the federal government.
His comments came during a joint press conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov in Berlin, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Asked about the illegal migration, Bulgarian Prime Minister Denkov stressed that his country made significant progress in this regard, which was among the main concerns of Austria and the Netherlands that led to oppose the accession of both states to the Schengen Zone in December last year.
During the press conference, Scholz also said that he is grateful for Bulgaria’s efforts to advance border security measures in Bulgaria, emphasising that there have been huge changes made in this regard.
Bulgaria and Romania have been waiting to become part of the Schengen Zone for more than ten years now.
Scholz said that now is the time for the Western Balkan states to become members of the European Union, mentioning the fact that 20 years ago, the EU made a corresponding commitment in Thessaloniki.
That’s why it’s very, very important that we move the relevant process forward now – this, of course, also includes North Macedonia, which can now point to relevant decisions. I hope that this will also happen in close cooperation with Bulgaria.Scholz
Recently, the Bulgarian Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalin Stoianov, also expressed his hopes that both Balkan countries would be admitted to the Schengen Zone by the end of this year, emphasising that the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will do anything for the finalisation of this process.
In addition, the Minister said that authorities in Bulgaria have prevented 160,000 irregular border crossing attempts since the beginning of this year, compared to 100,000 registered in the same period last year.
Last month, the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said that both countries should acquire membership to the Schengen Zone without further delays.
According to von der Leyen, both states have been showcasing best practices on asylum as well as returns, stressing that border protection has been steeped up.
However, Austria continues to oppose the accession of these two countries to the Schengen Zone over concerns that the Schengen system is not working, and thus, there is no point in further extending it.
The Ministry of the Interior of Austria previously told SchengenVisaInfo.com that when it comes to this issue, Vienaa’s position remains unchanged.
Source : Schengen Visa