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Bulgaria's Prime Minister in Berlin

Close cooperation on border security

Germany will support Bulgaria to the best of its ability during its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union next year, Chancellor Angela Merkel assured her Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov during his inaugural visit to Berlin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov with military honours at the Federal Chancellery. Germany supports Bulgaria's moves to join both the Schengen Area and the euro zone, says Chancellor Photo: Bundesregierung/Breloer

During the inaugural visit of Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated him on his re-election at the beginning of May. She said she was looking forward to continuing the good cooperation between the two countries, because bilateral relations between Germany and Bulgaria are "very good, very intensive".

Ensuring good neighbourliness

Both leaders agreed, reported Angela Merkel, "that the European Union is facing huge challenges". We must not now focus exclusively on withdrawal negotiations with the United Kingdom. "We must naturally also push ahead with the development of the European Union – in a difficult geo-strategic environment," said the Chancellor.

In this context, Angela Merkel thanked the Bulgarian Prime Minister for his rigorous approach to border security. The country has an exposed position, bordering on the Western Balkan states on one side and Turkey and the Black Sea region on the other, and has a great interest in stability in its immediate environment.

Bulgaria has improved border security enormously, although it is not yet part of the Schengen Area. Germany supports the country in its rule-of-law reforms and its efforts to join both Schengen and the euro zone, said Angela Merkel.

Since Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union on 1 January 2007, it has been a partner in Euro-Atlantic cooperation. During the first half of 2018, the country will, for the first time since it acceded to the EU, assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Mastering European problems together

In the fields of migration and refugee policy, Germany and Bulgaria are cooperating very well, declared Angela Merkel. "We very much appreciate the efforts that Bulgaria has made in this context," said the Chancellor. The fight against illegal migration, human traffickers and smugglers is an "ongoing challenge for the Bulgarian government". But, she added, Bulgaria is also "one of the countries that sees this as a shared European challenge". For this, she is very grateful to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

The Chancellor reported that they had also discussed the so-called "Berlin process", which is intended to given the Western Balkan states "a vision of hope" as well as supporting their prospects of joining the EU. According to Angela Merkel, a whole series of other geo-political stakeholders are also interested in establishing good relations with these countries. "We want to make it very plain here that we consider the accession prospects of the Western Balkan states to be unchanged, and that we are working towards this," assured the Chancellor.

Economic cooperation developing strongly

German-Bulgarian relations are based on extremely good economic relations, which could be further expanded, said the Chancellor. To this end, another meeting is scheduled for the end of June in Berlin, when the Bulgarian Prime Minister will come together with Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and representatives of medium-sized businesses.

One important point on the agenda of today’s meeting with the Chancellor was how to promote employment for young people. Opportunities for promoting vocational training were also discussed. "We encourage all German businesses to engage in Bulgaria because we believe that this is a good investment in the future and that the advantages offered by the Single Market can be harnessed," declared Angela Merkel with conviction.

Bulgaria is still a country with a very low per capita income. "That is why I wish Bulgaria that the economic investment, some with European Union support, really bears fruit, so that the people in Bulgaria see that their life is improving step by step, even if it takes a little longer," said the Chancellor, expressing her hopes.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017