Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mariya Gabriel, emphasized Bulgaria’s pivotal role in addressing migration pressures, linking the country’s Schengen accession to bolstering EU border controls. In a joint conference with Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, streamed via the Austrian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s YouTube channel, Gabriel underscored Bulgaria’s backing for Austria’s Schengen adaptation vision.
Gabriel highlighted the multifaceted aspect of the Schengen discussion, intertwining business relations, tourism, and bilateral ties between Sofia and Vienna. While Austria praised Bulgaria’s progress toward Schengen, Schallenberg flagged challenges impacting the Schengen zone. He emphasized the need for enhanced border control efforts while clarifying that Austria’s stance isn’t targeted at Bulgaria or Romania but aimed at reinforcing overall border security.
Addressing concerns about Schengen’s functionality, Schallenberg stressed the need for a more secure Schengen that meets the citizens’ safety expectations. The ministers also touched upon Ukraine and the EU enlargement, emphasizing solidarity within the European family and the significance of stable neighboring regions that align with European values.
Highlighting Austria’s stance on EU enlargement, Schallenberg affirmed Austria’s openness to Western Balkan countries joining the EU without imposing new accession conditions. This engagement marks the second high-level visit to Austria in a month after Prime Minister Nikoai Denkov’s meeting with Austria Chancellor Karl Nehammer on October 24.