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  • Borislav Ivanov

Bulgaria could join Schengen as early as December 2022

"Bulgaria has a genuine prospect of entering Schengen as early as December 2022, and any Bulgarian government, regardless of the ad hoc scenario," Bulgarian Justice Minister Krum Zarkov stated in an interview. According to him, it’s the appropriate time for this to happen.

Zarkov stated that Czechia, which now holds the rotating EU Council Presidency, supports Bulgaria's entrance to the Schengen Area. The European Parliament has voted a number of resolutions in support of this approach. "What else are we waiting for?" the interviewee inquires.

Consistent communication between the government and the European Commission on meeting the requirements of the Recovery and Resilience Plan is also beneficial.

Let’s remember a recent incident in which a bus full of illegal migrants rammed a patrol car and killed two police officers after traveling uncontrollably from the border with Turkey all the way to Burgas, focusing attention on corruption in the Interior Ministry in general and the Border Police in particular.

Zarkov believes that Bulgaria's chances of joining Schengen are not jeopardized by this terrible occurrence. One of Bulgaria's compelling arguments for joining Schengen is that, as a result of its delayed admission, the country is forced to commit human and technical resources to the protection of internal borders that are not supposed to be manned while undermining the security of the all-important external border, he argued.

According to the Justice Minister, Bulgaria's Schengen membership is being held up by many European nations, particularly the Netherlands, Denmark, and, to a lesser extent, Germany, who say that Bulgaria must first demonstrate success in combatting corruption, which it is now failing to accomplish.

According to Zarkov, Bulgaria's preparation for admission and anti-corruption efforts are both crucial but should be treated separately. "This nation has met the technical requirements for Schengen membership. It is only reasonable that the EU impose standards under the Rule of Law Mechanism, but we have the right to insist that the Schengen agreement be applied as well. We should have been part of Schengen 11 years ago. This does not, however, mean that we should ignore the other difficulties. They are not about Schengen but about how we live and grow, as well as other EU concerns such as the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the Rule of Law Mechanism. These problems are like millstones around our necks, "the interviewee mentioned.

Zarkov said when asked how we can persuade the Dutch that if they let us join Schengen, Bulgarian border guards will not let migrants in for a bribe: "No border in the world is hermetically shut, neither in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, or any of the so-called suspicious governments. These folks are fully aware of this. I've spoken with them. Together with the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. A lot has been accomplished since the government was entrusted with prioritizing this [Schengen accession]. There are important indicators of progress, most notably Olaf Scholz's address in Prague, "He stated.

"The legislation that we have long promised to pass is nearly complete. In terms of Europe, Bulgaria has been plagued for years by high-level corruption, the prosecutor general's position, powers, and political involvement, and corruption in general. These are the internal flaws that have blacklisted us in the eyes of Europe and turned off investors. Not by chance, fixing these concerns is a prerequisite for receiving Recovery Plan funds, "The Justice Minister made a statement.

"The interior, foreign, and justice ministries established a relatively efficient Schengen contact group. Bulgaria, in my opinion, should insist on a solution to the problem in December, when the European Council meets. There is no compelling reason to oppose membership, "Zarkov was adamant.

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