site.btaIOM Regional Director Confers with Bulgarian PM, Interior Minister, Deputy FM
The Regional Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for the EEA, the EU, and NATO, Ola Henrikson held meetings with Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov on Thursday, the Council of Ministers and the Interior Ministry said. On Wednesday, Henrikson met with Deputy Foreign Minister Irena Dimitrova, the Foreign Ministry said.
Henrikson and Stoyanov discussed bilateral cooperation and stressed the importance of the IOM as a long-standing and valuable partner for Bulgaria. Stoyanov briefed Ola Henrikson on the migration situation in this country and the actions taken by the Interior Ministry to tackle illegal migration and human trafficking. He expressed gratitude for the IOM support.
Henrikson recalled that 2023 marks the 23rd anniversary of the founding of IOM’s mission in Bulgaria and reaffirmed the mission’s readiness to continue assisting the Interior Ministry in areas of mutual interest through capacity building and the implementation of joint projects funded by EU programmes.
The highlight of the meeting between Denkov and Henrikson was the benefits of Bulgaria and Romania joining the Schengen area.
“Accession into Schengen and the eurozone is a priority for us. We want to be fully integrated,” Denkov said.
The removal of border controls between Bulgaria and Greece, and Bulgaria and Romania, will enable this country to further strengthen the protection of its borders, which are external to the EU, and to deepen its efforts to combat the flow of illegal migrants. It would also have a positive environmental effect by reducing carbon emissions caused by cars waiting at border crossings, Denkov argued.
Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitrova, Henrikson discussed Bulgaria's cooperation with IOM in the context of steadily increasing migrant and refugee flows. He noted Bulgaria's efforts to protect the EU's external border and expressed a hope that this country would join Schengen in the near future. He also noted the temporary protection provided to many Ukrainians in Bulgaria.
The Netherlands and Austria remain opposed to Schengen entry for Bulgaria and Romania.