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DUTCH AMBASSADOR DIMS FURTHER BULGARIA’S SCHENGEN HOPES

September 20, 2011 1 comment

Karel van Kesteren, Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria, confirmed Monday 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.

The Ambassador, however, stressed the issue with Bulgaria’s Schengen membership should not, in any way, be tied with the upcoming local and presidential elections on October 23.

“This is an assessment of Bulgaria, not only of the current cabinet, but of the previous one and the work of the Parliament. It would be wrong to say during the election campaign – this is your fault. It would be especially wrong regarding Margarita Popova, who in her capacity as Justice Minister applied significant effort. The Schengen issue should not become an election campaign issue,” Karel van Kesteren pointed out.

The diplomat’s words came in contradiction with Plevneliev’s statement that during the meeting Karel van Kesteren had said that the decision of the Dutch cabinet to veto the country’s Schengen membership is grounded in the actions of the previous Bulgarian cabinet, not the GERB one.

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

The Dutch Ambassador stressed Monday that the Bulgarian government has achieved a lot, but not enough. He declined commenting on Tsvetanov’s words.

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