“The smooth recovery in travel has started 2-3 weeks ago. First with neighboring countries and then with countries in a similar situation. I hope that in the next phase, this is expected after June 15, the full recovery of travel in the EU and the Schengen countries. Bulgaria has suspended quarantine for 29 countries. The quarantine is maintained at the discretion of the administration and doctors”, he told Bulgarian television BNT.
“The first step was to abolish quarantine for businesses. Some investments in Bulgaria have been delayed. Some families have been separated for 2 months. Face-to-face contact is different. At the last meeting, many ministers asked when we would meet in Luxembourg. The colleague there said that he was ready to meet us”, added the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“After a crisis, you have a great opportunity. After many crises, stronger ones emerge. We need to join forces in research. There is no country that can face such a crisis on its own. 85% of the protective equipment are made in China, as well as over 80% of antibiotics. The next step is to return some of these processes to the EU. We need to be able to rely on each other within the EU”, Zaharieva added.
Zaharieva also commented on the issue of anti-Bulgarian rhetoric in North Macedonia. “Part of the reason for the anti-Bulgarian rhetoric in North Macedonia is the nationalist approach, which is due to the country’s elections. But when you aspire to become a member of the European family, it should not occur to any politician to express in such a way, especially towards a friendly country.
It’s full of fake news. “There is another reason why Macedonians have such anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. We were categorical and clear. Last year, parliament approved Bulgaria’s explicit position on North Macedonia”.
As far as the Balkans are concerned, the Bulgarian position is clear. The Balkans are part of us, of Europe, they are the external borders of the EU. What the EU has shown in the crisis is that it has given the most help to these countries. This shows that the Bulgarian ambition after our Presidency to keep this issue at the center of the talks has been fulfilled. The EU has shown that it is reaching out and enlargement remains a priority”, she added.
The biggest setback was the suspension of the joint committee’s work with North Macedonia, at their request, and the work was stopped on the grounds of the forthcoming elections. “That is why we have set up this committee; I do not accept the argument that its work should be stopped before the elections; this committee is comprised by historians, not politicians, and no one has given political instructions”, Zaharieva said.
Regarding the report by the Russian Cultural Information Center, which tried to distort Bulgarian history, Zaharieva said it was unacceptable. “Three times similar things happened on May 24 at different levels. I am proud of the Bulgarian scientists who understood everything and reacted in time – and their reaction was not just these days, there was a case in which a government spokesman said that the Red Army had saved Bulgaria – such a discussion does not bring anything good. It is the same with the alphabet”, Zaharieva pointed out.
Russia, China, Turkey and other countries have vested interests in the Balkans – and it is important for the EU to show support in the Balkans. The maturity of the political elite shows compliance with the agreements reached, the Foreign Minister added.
Bulgaria has good relations with Ukraine and always maintains democratic relations there, we have over 204 thousand Bulgarians living there, Ekaterina Zaharieva added./ibna