Danish Ambassador Søren Jacobsen: Bilateral Relations Between Bulgaria and Denmark Are Excellent Both in the Political, Cultural and Commercial Areas
Exclusive interview of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) with His Excellency,Mr. Søren Jacobsen, Ambassador of Denmark to the Republic of Bulgaria.
CAREER / PROFESSIONAL ROUTE: Søren Jacobsen
Danish Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria since September, 2017. Born in Aarhus, Denmark. 48 years old. Married. Three children.
2014 -2017: Deputy Head of European Policy Department / Head of Migration Taskforce in Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2013-2014: Danish Senior Civilian Representative, Provincial Restructuring Team, Lashkar Gah, Helmand, and Head of Political Affairs, Royal Danish Embassy in Kabul
2009-2013: Deputy Head of Mission at the Royal Danish Embassy in Beijing
2006-2009: Deputy Head of Mission at the Royal Danish Embassy in Ankara
2003-2006: Head of Section, European Policy Department (General European Policy and EU institutions)
2000-2003: First Secretary Royal Danish Embassy in Beijing
1. What do you expect from the Bulgarian EU Presidency?
I am looking very much forward to the six months of Bulgaria’s first EU-presidency. I am sure Bulgaria will do greatand use the presidency to show that Bulgaria has what it takes to run a presidency professionally. Hosting the EU-presidency is a major task even after the Lisbon Treaty changed the format in 2007. Bulgaria will have a crucial role in facilitating some very important discussions in the Union, and I definitely think Bulgaria will handle the challenge and secure the necessary compromises. It is, of course, all 28 countries’ responsibility to find common solutions and compromises but the Bulgarian presidency can certainly do its part to make the decision-making process as ideal as possible.
2. What do you believe should be the key areas of focus during the Presidency? Integration of the Western Balkans, Cyber security? Or something else...?
I believe an important issue during the Bulgarian Presidency will be the discussions on the future of the European Union after Brexit. This concerns all EU-citizens and clearly this discussion is crucial in order to be able to answer some of the other important questions the EU is faced with. Seen from a Danish point of view it is very important that the EU delivers specific results to the benefit of the European citizens. It is not the time for treaty changes or developing a new institutional set-up, but to deliver.
It will also be important during the Bulgarian EU-presidency to look at how the various security issues we are facing in EU can be tackled. The question of security has many different aspects like terrorism, migration, border control, energy policies and cyber security, which need to be dealt with during the Bulgarian Presidency. I believe it is important to remember that making the EU a safe place does not only mean to deal with terrorism, migration or securing the external borders but it should also focus on, for instance, cybercrime, energy and EU’s relations with third countries. The energy package and the Energy Union will be important issues that we hope will be promoted during the Bulgarian presidency.
We are also looking forward to the EU/Western Balkan summit in Sofia in May, which will be a major Bulgarian priority.
3. Do you think Bulgaria is ready to join Schengen and what would be the consequences of such an action in your opinion?
Denmark is generally positive vis-à-vis Bulgaria joining Schengen as discussed in the Council in 2011, and believes that Bulgaria fulfils the criteria in the Schengen rules. However, not least due to the migration crisis, we understand the need to postpone the final decision until the situation has changed. We know this is a very important issue for Bulgaria and will do our part when the time is right.
4. How do you find life in Bulgaria? For example do you feel safe from terrorist threats?
I have spent two amazing months in Bulgaria as Ambassador of Denmark and my job has been a great pleasure so far. I have previously been posted twice to China, and in Turkey and Afghanistan, so living here is different from what I have experienced earlier in my career. However, the past three years before coming to Bulgaria I worked in Copenhagen with EU policy questions, the European Council, the future of Europe and migration so coming here just before the Bulgarian EU presidency is quite fantasticand I am looking very much forward to the challenge.
Regarding terrorism, it has unfortunately been part of the reality in Europe for some time and lately we have seen many horrific examples. We should of course do what we can to prevent it from happening again but, at the same time we should by all means try to continue living our lives as we did before. To me, Sofia seems to be a very safe city and a city that offers something for every taste. The richness of culture, history and nature, not to mention the great Bulgarian cuisine is unique. I will during my time in Bulgaria try to visit all parts of the country together with my family.
5. How do you feel about the relations of your country with Bulgaria?
I believe that the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Denmark are very good both in the political, cultural and commercial areas. But it is of course my ambition to enhance the bilateral relations even further. At the Danish Embassy we arranged a bike event with Sofia Municipality and Urban Mobility Centre this September. Our collaboration with our partners was great and the event became a great success with about 200 Sofians biking along with us. I took this as a sign that Danish ideas and experience are welcomed and appreciated here in Bulgaria, a bilateral dynamic which we of course should use to develop the relation even further.
On the commercial level the bonds between Denmark and Bulgaria are continuously growing stronger as more and more Danish companies decide to invest in Bulgaria and become present on the Bulgarian market.
6. And is there anything specific you would like to be achieved in means of cooperation during the Bulgarian EU Presidency?
I would very much like to strengthen the bilateral relations between Denmark and Bulgaria further during the Bulgarian EU-presidency. We have a number of Danish delegations coming to Sofia from January to June 2018 which I of course see as an opportunity to develop the relations further especially in the areas of commerce, energy and culture. These are also some of the key focus areas of the Bulgarian presidency and I believe that they will stay important after the Bulgarian presidency.
Let me finally add, that we, at the Embassy are very interested in entering in to dialog with Bulgarian partners.
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