site.btaDeputy Prime Minister Gabriel: Bulgaria Is Part of Solution to Migration Pressure
Bulgaria is part of the solution to the problem with migrant pressure and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen will make control over EU’s external borders more efficient, said Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel at a joint news conference with Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg.
The news conference was livestreamed on the YouTube channel of the Austrian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that Bulgaria supports Austria’s vision that the Schengen area should adapt to the new realities. Gabriel said that the question of Schengen is related to bilateral relations between Sofia and Vienna from the point of view of business relations and tourism.
Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Schallenberg said that Bulgaria is on the right track to joining Schengen, but there are many challengers to the Schengen area because many countries are reinstating their border controls. According to him, Bulgaria should make more efforts to control the EU external borders and Austria’s veto is not personally directed towards Bulgaria or Romania.
Schallenberg noted that Austria neighbours members of the Schengen area and despite that, it continues to have the largest share of asylum seekers in Europe. The Austrian love Schengen but they have the impression the area currently is not functioning and does not give the sense of security that they need, he added.
Gabriel said that she and Schallenberg discussed Ukraine and EU enlargement.
"Our joint message is that solidarity and the unity of the European family are not a given thing but they should be defended in difficult times. We continue to support Ukraine and will support it for as long as it is necessary,” said the Bulgarian Foreign Minister.
"I would like to underscore that the Western Balkans belong to the EU,” said Gabriel. “For us it is of strategic importance to have secure, prosperous and stable neighbours who share with us our European values,” she added.
Of the EU enlargement, Schallenberg said that Austria won’t block Western Balkan countries that want to be part of the EU and won’t set new conditions to their accession.
This is the second visit of a senior government official to Austria in the past month. On October 24, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov visited Vienna to meet with Austria Chancellor Karl Nehammer.