Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said his country would not accept additional conditions that do not meet other countries’ expectations.
His comments came as a response to the proposal of Austria’s “Air Schengen”, which would allow citizens from Romania and Bulgaria to travel to Schengen countries without passing through passport controls.
However, the proposal of Austria’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, emphasized that the rules might be loosened only for air travel, but land border crossing would still be restricted.
In this regard, Denkov stressed that Bulgaria will see how far the border of acceptable and unacceptable conditions for Schengen will be in the coming days and weeks.
Bulgarian Prime Minister said that they are ready to accept anything that helps the protection of the external borders after, according to him, “is also in our interest”.
Similar to Denkov, Bulgarian Minister of the Interior Kalin Stoyanov emphasized that both Romania and Bulgaria have met all the necessary conditions for this process to be completed.
Stoyanov’s comments came during a meeting held with Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and Romanian Minister of the Interior Cătălin Predoiu.
The proposal of Austria’s Interior Minister has also been supported by the European Commission, which said that talks to implement such a plan are underway.
“Things are moving in a positive direction, and that is definitely what is important at this stage.” a Commission spokesperson
The accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Zone was blocked by Austria on December 8 last year over irregular migrant concerns. Vienna has continuously reiterated that its position remains unchanged when it comes to this issue.
Earlier this month, the Interior Minister of Austria stressed that Schengen Area should become “better, not bigger”. Karner’s comments came during the meeting of the Interior Ministers of the EU scheduled for December 5; however, no vote on the accession of these two countries was included on the agenda.
During the meeting, Karner urged for robust external border protection. Authorities in Romania and Bulgaria have intensified their efforts to convince Austria, and in the case of Bulgaria, the Netherlands – which opposes Sofia’s accession to the passport-free travel zone – that they deserve to become the newest members of the Schengen Area, for which process have been waiting for many years now.
In order for the accession of these two countries to Schengen to be completed, Austria recently outlined four conditions that would permit Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to travel to Schengen countries without undergoing additional requirements such as passport controls.