site.btaForeign Minister: OECD Membership Is Bulgaria's Most Important Integration Effort After EU and NATO Membership
Among Bulgaria's specific foreign policy goals is membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and joining the Schengen area, Foreign Minister Nikolay Milkov said here Monday. He was speaking to the press on his way into the 16th international Winter School for Diplomacy, held by the Diplomatic Institute with the Foreign Ministry for foreign diplomats from the EU, Southeast Europe and the Black Sea region.
Milkov said that the OECD is an organization that deals with important matters on a global level and gave as an example a decision on digital taxation adopted by the OECD in 2021. He stressed that it is in Bulgaria's national interest to be part of such discussions, and the country's voice to be amplified through membership. According to him, OECD membership for Bulgaria is possible in the next two to three years.
Bulgaria would be able to meet Netherlands' expectations regarding Schengen after October
Regarding the accession to the Schengen area, which is another top priority for Bulgaria, the Foreign Minister said: "We have managed to work out a paradigm together with the Netherlands on how our efforts should proceed from here on. We have to work together to identify everything that the Dutch side expects to see in a future report on the rule of law in Bulgaria." He noted that this dialogue is not bilateral, but trilateral, because it is actually the European Commission that prepares the reports. "Such a report is expected to come out in June or July, following a fact-finding mission to Bulgaria, also organized by the EC and with the participation of the Netherlands. If the Netherlands is satisfied with the report, then after October Bulgaria would be able to meet their criteria for Schengen entry," the Foreign Minister said.
Milkov said that Bulgaria is working together with Romania on joining Schengen. "This was confirmed by the visit of [Romanian] President Iohannis to Bulgaria. It was also confirmed two days later in my telephone conversation with the Romanian foreign minister. The goal here is not to save ourselves 'individually'. The goal is to go to Schengen together because our interest is common. This is about making sure that all goods that are transported from Greek ports north to Europe do not have to wait for days at the borders between Greece and Bulgaria and then between Bulgaria and Romania," Milkov said, noting that this is a matter of economic interest for the whole of Europe.