US Ambassador: Bulgaria Will Join Schengen at Some Point

Diplomacy | September 20, 2011, Tuesday // 11:49|  views

US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick, informed Tuesday that he has pending meetings with all Bulgarian candidates for president and vice president. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria will join the Schengen zone for sure, but the exact date is the issue, according to US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick.

The diplomat spoke Tuesday in an interview for the Bulgarian National Television, BNT, pointing out that Bulgaria had fulfilled all technical requirements and Brussels will give it a green light for lifting border control at some point.

The Ambassador said that there are problems with the justice system in Bulgaria, but praised the good judges and quality people in Bulgaria, who are commited to make the right decisions and do the right things. He reiterated his satisfaction with the demonstrated will of the cabinet to fight corruption.

Warlick also explained that his criticism should never be seen as an attempt to tarnish the image of the country's justice system, however, the problems there are a fact, and not just his own conclusion, but a common one.

"There is lack of trust in the system, and trust is needed. The issue here is not that the system must be reformed, but how it will be reformed. Bulgarian citizens must realize they have had enough with tolerating such things and say loud and clear that they want change," the diplomat stressed, adding there are cases of corruption in the US as well, but citizens and the system are fighting for their State.

The Ambassador voiced his anticipation about the outcome of the October 23 local and presidential elections and informed he has pending meetings with all candidates for president and vice president.

Regarding the more and more frequent reports of vote buying across the country weeks before Election Day, Warlick said that halting such incidents is both the responsibility of the government and the citizens.

On Monday, Karel van Kesteren, Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria, confirmed his country's position and intentions to block Bulgaria's joining of the Schengen zone.

After a meeting with the candidates for president and vice president from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, Rosen Plevneliev, and Margarita Popova, the diplomat reiterated the Netherlands government would not agree on lifting border control on the grounds of the conclusions of the European Commission's July report under the monitoring and verification mechanism in the area of justice and home affairs.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov announced in Sofia that Bulgaria will reconsider its support for the reforms of the Schengen Agreement if it decides it is getting unfair treatment over its application for the visa-free area.

The reaction of the Bulgarian government came after Friday night the Dutch government decided that the Netherlands will veto Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the Schengen Area at the meeting of the Council of the European Union on September 22, 2011.

On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, voiced hope that on September 22, 2011, the Council of the EU Interior Ministers will make a favorable for Bulgaria decision on its joining of the Schengen zone and the Netherlands' opinion about Bulgaria will be ignored by the other EU Member States.

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Tags: Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister, candidates, Vice President, president, elections, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Nikolay Mladenov, Foreign Minister, Schengen, Schengen Accession, Karel van Kesteren, Dutch, ambassador, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, monitoring report, judiciary, judicial system, organized crime, James Warlick, ambassador, US, EU, GERB, Rosen Plevneliev, Margarita Popova


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