Borisov Still Hopes for French Support for Bulgaria's Schengen Entry

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | November 24, 2010, Wednesday // 18:42
Bulgaria: Borisov Still Hopes for French Support for Bulgaria's Schengen Entry Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Prime Minister, still hopes France might back Bulgaria for Schengen entry in March 2011. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov still hopes that France would back Bulgaria’s Schengen Accession in March 2011.

In an interview for BNT, Borisov says that the expulsion of Bulgarian and Romanian Roma did affect Bulgaria’s image in France even though the number of Bulgarians that France expelled as a safety hazard was much smaller than the number of Romanians.

In his words, Romanian President Traian Basescu “exerted a lot of efforts in order to make get us in the same track.”

“We are doing everything possible. You saw that last month we had almost all EU leaders in Bulgaria including Chancellor Merkel and they supported us. After that I talked personally with President Sarkozy and he assumed me that Bulgaria has his personal support for Schengen. What is more, with our Romanian colleagues we are taking steps to enter the Schengen question in the agenda of the European People’s Party meeting in December. We will seek support from the MEPs and members of the European People’s Party. In addition, in December we will have one more conversation with President Sarkozy, and this is very important for Bulgaria because the final check for our accession to the Schengen Area comes in December. We must demonstrate outstanding performance,” explained Borisov, whose government hopes Bulgaria will be admitted in the Schengen Agreement in March 2011.

“We are doing everything we can so it is not justified to call any delay a failure. If there is a delay, it will be purely political,” he said.

Borisov did hint, however, that a canceled deal for the purchase of French corvettes for the Bulgarian Navy might have played a role in the current French opposition to Bulgaria’s Schengen entry.

"There are certain business processes in the world which require that a state to sign agreements with big companies and that those agreements include some obligations. Somebody, for example, has ordered corvettes, which cost over BGN 1 B, but somebody else pays them, is that a problem or not? But I am not going to say anything more because that might get me in a fight with President Sarkozy, and at this point we have perfect relations, and I hope that at the end of the day he will back Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen,” Borisov said, answering criticism by former Bulgarian PM and current rightist leader Ivan Kostov, who expressed his Blue Coalition’s concern over Bulgaria's chances to join Schengen soon.

The French company "Armaris" planned to sell to Bulgaria 2 corvettes for BGN 1 B, a deal that was blessed by Bulgaria's former government and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

Sarkozy first put on the table the corvettes' purchase in 2007 when he visited Sofia after his diplomatic triumph with the release of the Bulgarian medics jailed in Libya.

The Bulgarian PM canceled the deal in October 2009, stating on that occasion that the corvettes were not feasible because the country's previous rulers not only did not slate any money in the budget for such splurge, leaving Bulgaria to face the need of BGN 150-160 M to repair the Belgium frigates bought by the "Stanishev" cabinet.

Bulgaria's Borisov government hoped for a Schengen entry in March 2011 but recent indications from Paris have cooled down its hopes.

Last week Paris said Bulgaria and Romania are not ready to join the Schengen Agreement in March 2011, confirming France's intention to block the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the latest EU entrants, to the borderless Schengen Area, which was first indicated last week by France's Minister for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche.

The country hopes to join the EU's border-free zone by the end of 2011 as scheduled and the official line is that recent expulsions of mostly Romanian and Bulgarian Roma from France is irrelevant to that process.

Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Prime Minister, France, Schengen, corvettes
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