Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen with the lifting of air and sea border controls at the end of March 2024 is a huge step forward after 12 years of negotiations and six months of hard work by the government and the National Assembly, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov and Deputy Prime Minister Maria Gabriel said in a joint statement on December 31.
“It happened, in spite of all obstacles, prejudices, scepticism, huge geopolitical and domestic political interests,” the joint statement.
This is a hard-won but well-deserved victory for Bulgaria, Denkov and Gabriel said.
“Because while we were convincing the countries that were stopping us on the way to Schengen, we took those important steps that guarantee us a better quality of life here – in Bulgaria,” they said.
“We ranked first in the world for the fastest progress in the justice system – and this reversed the position of the Netherlands, which had been holding us back for so many years.
“This progress is extremely important, because we cannot live well and feel fulfilled if all Bulgarians are not equal before the law and do not deal with corruption. We reliably defend the borders of the European Union, because these are our borders too – and this eventually reversed Austria’s position as well.”
They said that this success had been achieved in spite of a hostile political environment and a boom in disinformation, which has ramifications for the whole of Europe – and also affected the subject of Schengen.
“Contrary to the spread of fake news in recent days, there are no new conditions related to the number of migrants from Syria and Afghanistan that Bulgaria and Romania will register and accept as Schengen member states. We will continue, as before, to apply the terms of the Dublin Agreement,” the joint statement said.
“Bulgaria does not and cannot accept persons for whom it is not responsible. And these are the facts that are indisputable.”
They said that in March 2024, Bulgarians would become part of the millions of European citizens who fly and sail freely.
Tens of thousands of Bulgarian citizens will take advantage of this opportunity every month after March, they said.
This is also a breakthrough for business, tourism, and culture in Bulgaria, in front of which many obstacles are being removed and new opportunities are opening up, the statement said.
“All this, step by step, is happening thanks to you, the Bulgarian citizens. Your will to have a functioning government and a functioning Parliament played a crucial role in getting us to today’s breakthrough. Therefore, we thank everyone who spared no effort to achieve huge progress on Bulgaria’s path to Schengen even after the first six months.
“We continue to work with even greater conviction that we belong to this community.
“We believe that it is only a matter of time before the political processes in Europe lead to the abolition of land border controls as well – for the benefit of European citizens, of which we are a part,” Denkov and Gabriel said.
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