Why Austria said “No” to Bulgaria about Schengen and when will it say “Yes”EU | December 19, 2022, Monday // 14:24| views
"We are not against our EU partners Bulgaria and Romania - we maintain close relations of trust with both countries, but joint European efforts are important to us. Therefore, I would like to assure you that we have not pronounced a categorical ‘no’ to the expansion of Schengen and the inclusion of Bulgaria (and Romania)."
This is assured by the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria in Bulgaria H.E. Andrea Ikic-Böhm in a letter to the chairman of the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom" - Prof. Alexander Oskar and the other signatories of their open letter to the ambassadors of Austria and the Netherlands, who stopped our accession to the zone of the 26 European countries without border control between them. In it, they asked for a review of the positions of both sides.
"Already at the beginning of my letter (I want) to assure you that the content of your letter was forwarded to the competent institutions in Austria as early as December 7, when it appeared in the Bulgarian media," Ambassador Ikic-Böhm wrote and explained the reason for the refusal.
"The reason for the Austrian attitude lies in the enormous migration pressure at the moment in Austria: this year alone around 100,000 illegal migrants were detained in Austria. Of these around 75,000 were not registered, meaning they crossed the EU's external border and were passed through other countries before Austria without being checked. This leads to the conclusion that the Schengen system in its current form does not work and the European asylum and migration system is currently not serving its purpose.
We are not against our EU partners Bulgaria and Romania - we maintain close relations of trust with both countries, but joint European efforts are important to us.
Therefore, I would like to assure you that we have not pronounced a categorical ‘no’ to the enlargement of Schengen and the inclusion of Bulgaria (and Romania), but in view of the migration pressure in Austria, we cannot approve the enlargement at this stage. So measures are needed and at the same time a positive effect, namely a reduction in the number of caught illegal migrants."
Ambassador Ikic-Böhm also shares that Austria has submitted proposals to the European Commission with the aim of increasing the protection of the external borders and assures that if they are implemented quickly, the situation for both Bulgaria and Romania will be greatly facilitated:
"As we understand from your letter and as we have always believed, we share the same values because we too believe that a united Europe is based on the principles of mutual cooperation, solidarity and mutual support. We also share your opinion that security and the future citizens of the European Union must be guaranteed as best as possible. Because it is important for us that no EU or Schengen country is left alone. We appreciate the great efforts of Bulgaria to protect its borders and ensure the security and well-being of the citizens of the European Union. Bulgaria and Romania must also receive European support to protect their external borders. Therefore, if we can quickly implement the proposals we have submitted to the European Commission, the situation for Bulgaria (and of course Romania) will be significantly easier. We aim for a well-functioning common European Schengen system for Austria and for Europe that will not fuel Euroscepticism if we can say: We have found common solutions, Schengen is working again".
Friends always talk to each other and seek dialogue even on challenging topics - says the ambassador and emphasizes that the internal borders can be opened only if the external ones are protected:
"We have a long-standing friendship with Bulgaria, we know and value each other. Friends always talk to each other and seek dialogue even on challenging topics. All the conversations I have had the privilege of having with members of the government and other representatives of Bulgaria are characterized by great mutual respect, which is a solid foundation. I am convinced that Austria and Bulgaria essentially want the same thing: to be part of a secure Schengen system that works throughout Europe. However, the internal borders can only be opened if the external borders are secured . This is the basic principle of Schengen. We are already in contact with our Bulgarian (and Romanian) partners for the next steps".
In response, "Shalom" expressed gratitude both for the letter sent and for the expressed support for Bulgaria.
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