The measures that Bulgaria introduced to protect the external borders of the EU have contributed significantly to reducing the migratory pressure on the countries of Central and Western Europe, Czech Republic prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in Prague on September 6 in talks with Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev.
Plevneliev was in the Czech capital on the second day of a two-day visit.
A statement by the Bulgarian President’s office said that in talks between Sobotka and Plevneliev, it became clear that Bulgaria and the Czech Republic share common positions on issues of illegal migration and security, and these were priorities for both countries.
The Czech Republic supports the closing of the so-called Balkan migration route, taking into account the difficulties that Bulgaria encountered in protecting the external borders of the EU in terms of increased migratory pressure, the statement said.
“From the beginning of the migration crisis in 2013, Bulgaria has acted responsibly and registered all migrants on its territory, strictly adhering to the rules of Schengen and Dublin,” Plevneliev said.
Plevneliev said that Bulgaria was among the first EU countries to encounter the wave of migration and despite the difficulties and financial constraints, had taken the necessary steps to limit the pressure.
Sobotka said that despite the difficulties in the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on readmission, efforts to implement it should continue.
“We showed that Bulgaria deserves trust, we can effectively protect the external borders of the EU and Bulgaria therefore deserves to be accepted at the first stage – with airports and ports – into the Schengen area”, Plevneliev said.
Sobotka predicted that the question of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen will become more urgent and expressed the Czech Republic’s strong support for the two countries’ admission to Schengen.
Plevneliev reiterated that migration crisis can be overcome only by a common European approach in cooperation with countries in the crisis regions.
Plevneliev and Sobotka were adamant that the integration of Western Balkan countries into European and Euro-Atlantic structures must continue and that this process will be the guarantor of peace and security in the region and throughout Europe.
“Bulgaria is now a stabilising and a very positive factor in the region,” Plevneliev said.