Bulgaria's priority is to deepen European integration – Pres. Radev

<p>President Rumen Radev <em>(BTA photo)</em></p>

President Rumen Radev (BTA photo)

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Bulgaria's main priority is to deepen its European integration – to enter Schengen, the Eurozone and become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), President Rumen Radev said on Friday, attending the Annual Conference of the Foreign Minister with the Heads of the Foreign Missions of the Republic of Bulgaria, held at the Boyana Residence in Sofia.

The Head of State thanked the participants in the forum for continuing to defend, preserve and develop the rich traditions and achievements of Bulgarian diplomacy.

"You continue to defend Bulgaria's interests in the world with dignity and honour. This requires a lot of effort because we see that in a world with huge dynamics of geopolitical processes, with a deteriorating security environment, including today in the Black Sea, we have preconditions for a deterioration of security," Radev said.

"In a world with fierce competition in the economic sphere, with deepening climate change, impoverishment of entire countries, of huge segments of the population. This places great demands and challenges on Bulgarian diplomacy," he added.

"It has been long since the war in Ukraine turned into a war of attrition, which is putting our economic and social systems to a huge test, which is increasing inflation and leading to a poverty growth," Radev said.

In his words, along with strengthening its national security and modernizing its army, Bulgaria should make active efforts to support all multilateral relations leading to de-escalation, the immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of peace in Ukraine.

Commenting on Bulgaria and Romania’s potential accession to Schengen, Radev said that it is extremely unfair what is happening to both countries.

He said Schengen is an important issue for Bulgaria and concerns the country’s economy, time and dignity.

In his words, Bulgaria and Romania are not islands of chaos who lack the rule of law.

"We are doing better than a number of Schengen member states in terms of protecting external borders. The question is "What are you doing?" because we are detaining illegal migrant traffickers in Bulgaria every day. These migrant smugglers come to us from member states to do business across our border, and why do you let them in? When we interrogate them, we find that the most important thing are the financial and organizational centres of this criminal network. It is not only migrant trafficking, this breeds corruption, crime and grey economy. These centres are not in Bulgaria, they are to the north and west of us, let's tackle them together," Radev said.

In his words, until these centres are dismantled, there will always be migrant traffic across the external borders of the European Union. Radev noted that by signing the treaty for joining the European Union the Bulgarians accepted that they should join the Eurozone.

"We should become a member of the Eurozone when we have actually covered the deficit and inflation conditions with clear, strong, economic measures, not through administrative decisions and deadlines," he stressed.

In the President's words, this requires an active, serious economic policy. 

"OECD membership is a standard that will ease investment processes, but we have to make sure that the reforms we have to make lead to much better policies in education, health and competitiveness so that we can improve the quality of life of Bulgarian citizens. This process is going at a very good pace," Radev said. (BTA)