Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has called for a clear timetable for Canada to abolish visa requirements for his country, saying that such a step is a priority for his government.
Borissov held talks in Sofia on July 22 with Larisa Galadza, the Canadian government’s director-general for immigration, refugees and citizenship.
Canada, like the United States, continues to require citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, both European Union countries, to hold visas if they want to visit the country. The European Commission has been attempting to broker a solution, given EU policies on visa reciprocity.
Borissov said that Bulgaria was ready the render the assistance necessary to the Canadian officials to gather the technical information needed to justify the abolition of visa requirements.
He said that he hoped the visit by the Canadian officials would bear fruit, adding that in respect of the criteria for the abolition of visa requirements – border management and the security of travel documents – Bulgaria was “world class”.
“The management of our borders is constantly given as an example by European leaders, including in the recent years of migratory pressures,” Borissov said.
He said that already for six years, Bulgaria had been issuing passports with biometric data stored on an electronic chip.
“Achieving visa reciprocity with Canada is important to us, so we hope this happens as soon as possible,” Borissov said.
Canadian immigration minister John McCallum has undertaken “to inform European partners in early autumn on the outcomes of the assessments and timelines for visa liftings, including the necessary elements of cooperation by Romania and Bulgaria”.
The European Commission said on July 13 that it would continue to “work toward” getting Canada and the United States to remove visa requirements for citizens of EU member states Bulgaria and Romania – but again hinted that it was reluctant to penalise Washington and Ottawa over the lack of visa reciprocity.
Bulgaria and Romania have indicated that unless Canada lifts its visa requirements, they could veto an EU-Canada free trade deal due for signing in October.
(Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)