Merkel in Sofia: ‘We expect a lot from Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency’

Written by on January 20, 2018 in Europe - Comments Off on Merkel in Sofia: ‘We expect a lot from Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency’

It was a short flight for Angela Merkel. The German government’s Airbus, operated by the Air Force, landed in Sofia less than two hours after taking off. After getting off the aircraft, the acting Chancellor was greeted by Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who gave her a bouquet of orange flowers.

Flanked by Borissov and her Ambassador in Sofia, Herbert Salber, Merkel walked towards a black limousine with a star on its hood, which took her downtown, where police officers had been standing in the cold for hours, in order to block regular traffic once her entourage would race across big intersections.

She talked to Boiko Borissov behind closed doors. Both appeared at a press conference afterwards. “I am glad I have the opportunity to visit Bulgaria at the beginning of the EU Council Presidency,” Merkel said. “We expect a lot from it.”

She also said that Bulgaria could do a lot with its good neighbourly relations and mentioned the Western Balkans countries, which needed a European perspective. She said she supported the Sofia government’s plan for a summit for that region in spring.

Angela Merkel and Boiko Borissov in Sofia.

Merkel promised Germany would continue to work on Bulgaria’s side and thanked the country for guarding its southern border to Turkey, which is also an external EU border. Of course, migration was another subject she talked about with Borissov. So was Turkey.

The Chancellor stated, she welcomed Bulgaria’s idea of ​​building a gas hub in Varna, and to use it for the distribution of gas throughout Europe.

Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency was well prepared, Merkel said. Of course she knows every detail of the preparations, also because her party friend Hans-Gert Pöttering is advising Borissov during the 6-month Presidency. So is the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is close to her party and runs an office in Sofia.

Borissov thanked Merkel for her visit to Bulgaria and her support for the gas hub plans. He said he was looking forward to tomorrow’s decision by Merkel’s potential coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). At a party conference, their delegates will either vote to start official coalition talks with Merkel’s conservative party CDU, or not to do so. They might save Germany or push the country into a deeper political crisis. “Germany is a motor of Europe”, Borissov stated.

“I am particularly happy that the EU is conducting a peaceful (…) policy”, he said. “We will do our best to normalise relations with our neighbours because Europe needs peace and tranquility, in order to be the best place to live in, with its prosperity.”

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