Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov met with his British counterpart Theresa May during a one-day working visit to London on December 11 to discuss co-operation on migration and security.
After the meeting, Borissov said that “despite the ongoing process between the EU and UK” – a clear reference to Britain’s talks to leave the bloc, colloquially known as Brexit – Bulgaria expected the UK to remain a strategic partner for the EU on issues such as security and the fight against terrorism.
May, quoted in a Bulgarian government media statement, said that as former UK home secretary, she was well-placed to appreciate Bulgaria’s efforts to manage the migrant crisis and fighting crime. “I thank you and Bulgaria for the assistance you have rendered in fighting organised crime, terrorism and people trafficking,” she was quoted as saying.
The two prime ministers also discussed the rights of Bulgarian citizens currently residing in the UK after Britain’s departure from the EU. Borissov is on the record saying that Bulgaria would not be giving up on the protection of Bulgarian nationals in Britain.
The issue has been a contentious one in the Brexit negotiations, with EU’s negotiating team insisting clarification on the status of EU nationals after Brexit before opening negotiation on Britain’s future trade with the bloc. After last week’s breakthrough in Brexit negotiations during May’s visit to Brussels, trade talks are expected to begin early next year, when Bulgaria will hold the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU.
Somewhat surprisingly, given Brexit and the contentiousness nature of Britain’s current relationship with the EU, Borissov also said he expected UK to support the European integration of the Western Balkans, one of several issues pinpointed by Bulgaria as a priority for its EU presidency.
(May and Borissov pose for the customary photo in front of 10 Downing Street before their meeting on December 11 2017. Photo via Borissov’s Facebook page.)