Bulgaria Demands Access to Schengen Database amid Migrant Crisis

Politics » DOMESTIC | September 23, 2015, Wednesday // 13:53
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Demands Access to Schengen Database amid Migrant Crisis Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva. Photo by BGNES

The quota system for migrant relocation is currently the only possible and right option for Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva has said.

In a statement to the media also published on her own blog, she has urged on leaders to adopt the plan proposed by the EU Commission and backed by all but for interior ministers at a Tuesday meeting in Luxembourg.

The Deputy PM has also demanded that Bulgaria receive full access to the Schengen database as an external border of the EU, adding that stability in the country, amid the complex international developments, is of crucial importance.

Kuneva's comments come ahead of the Wednesday EU Summit where leaders are to affirm the countries' commitment to the quota proposal. Bulgaria has voiced support for the scheme, while four countries – Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Romania, – have said they will reject.

She has described the migrant problem as one “whose solution requires the participation of everyone,” reminding that Bulgaria, a “frontline state” in her words, could tomorrow be facing the situation of Hungary, Italy or Greece and it should then expect the same solidarity.

In her words, the “refugee crisis today in Europe is putting to a test our capacity to deal [with problems] together as a community.” There are very few leaders who are ready to lose popularity for a while and offer “the right long-term solutions – for their country, but for the EU as a whole,” she has warned.

„Today Europe is divided and this is bad. At the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on September 22, a situation of open voting was reached – almost an unprecedented case in the history of this institution. This is why leadership is of utmost need,” Kuneva has noted.

Kuneva has pointed to the move to adopt the quota system as a prerequisite “if we want to preserve ourselves as a union, as a community for which solidarity is a fundament.”

She has also made clear that, despite the temporary reintroduction of border controls within the Schengen area, the development is not “the end of Schengen... just as the financial crisis wasn't the end of the Eurozone, but to the contrary, made the euro a much stronger currency.”

A reference is made to the financial crisis where “the answer was: much deeper cooperation, much more discipline, much more unified solutions”.

Bulgaria, even though not in Schengen, places importance on... free movement, security and common borders,” Kuneva has asserted, insisting Bulgaria will not renounce its demand to become part of the borderless area.

“It is precisely now, in this crisis situation, more than ever, that Schengen is a prerequisite to security of both Bulgaria and Europe... When it comes to protecting external borders and shared responsibility to the refugee problem, Bulgaria can be trusted. We have proved it and continue to prove it every day. Bulgaria will win from Schengen, but Schengen will also win from Bulgaria.”

Sofia's demand for access to Schengen's database “is neither bargaining nor a condition for support for a right policy – the new migration policy offered by the EU Commission. This is common European interest,” the Deputy Prime Minister also notes.
Kuneva, who is in charge of coordination of European policies and institutional affairs, has also pointed to the need for Bulgaria to adopt an anti-corruption bill and introduce an open vote at the Supreme Judicial Council – an institution composed of magistrates and prosecutors that is often called “the government of the judiciary” and that has sparked debate among Bulgaria's political parties over proposed structural changes.

The two questions, Kuneva says, are turning “into the core of our problems” which “we now have the chance to solve”, given Parliament's gradual adoption of “negotiation culture” and a society that has achieved stability and predictability “especially against the background of more unstable regions and even neighboring countries.”

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Tags: Schengen, Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria, justice and home affairs council, migrants, refugees, migrant crisis
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