Unanimity on the topics of migration in Europe, the protection of the external borders of the EU, integration of the Western Balkans into the European family, and on the multiannual financial framework expressed Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz at their talks in Sofia.
“In all my meetings I stressed that 2018 should be seen as a Bulgarian-Austrian Presidency because none of the topics that we initiate can be closed within six months,” said at a joint press conference Prime Minister Borissov and welcomed the willingness of Austria to continue to work on these important for Europe’s agenda issues.
Borissov and Kurz expressed their common position that the agreement with Turkey should continue to function. “We have the same understanding about border protection - to do it so as to ensure that people in Europe feel safe, to do it with humane treatment for asylum seekers and, at the same time, European diplomacy should work. We set a single goal for the summit in Varna on March 26 - to continue to implement the agreement with Turkey in order to protect Europe,” the Bulgarian Prime Minister highlighted.
The Austrian Chancellor thanked for the efforts of the Bulgarian government to protect the external borders. “We are grateful that Bulgaria is guarding the external borders so well. Bulgaria is very active and I hope others will follow, we have to support Bulgaria. There is no country in Europe that has invested so much in terms of border protection,” said Sebastian Kurz. Austria firmly stands behind the accession of Bulgaria to Schengen, he said.
The two heads of government have declared that they will continue to work together for the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries as an opportunity for stability and prosperity in the region but also across Europe. Borissov and Kurz underlined the importance of the connectivity projects in the fields of energy, transport, and digital infrastructure. At the summit in May in Sofia, the hybrid funding of all projects will be discussed in depth so that the process of integration of the countries from the region becomes irreversible, the Bulgarian Prime Minister underlined. “The condition for EU membership is to close all negotiation chapters, but this takes time. As for infrastructure projects - people live today. Therefore, roads, railroads, ports - they are needed today, so that young people in these countries also have a perspective. This will help the accession process, as well. That is why we are working together with Austria to ensure that there is no interruption,” said Boyko Borissov.
Chancellor Kurz mentioned the good results Bulgaria has achieved so far under the rotating presidency. “Thanks for the strong performance of Bulgaria during the Presidency of the Council. We have very similar positions on matters of importance to the Union and we will use the Presidency to make Europe stronger,” Kurz said.