Dutch Minister Impressed with Bulgaria's External EU Border Control

Dutch Minister Impressed with Bulgaria's External EU Border Control

Dutch Minister for European Affairs Ben Knapen, who visited the Bulgarian Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint Thursday, said he was impressed with the improvements.

The checkpoint was considered Bulgaria's most problematic with regards to its potential Schengen Agreement entry before it was announced the country is technically ready.

"I am very impressed with the fact that you have achieved a lot in this region- you have all sorts of technical equipment, you maintain excellent cooperation in all forms with Frontex and you have managed to accomplish this very fast", said Knapen during his visit.

He pointed out that he found it very interesting to learn more about how Bulgaria handles border defense and control.

Ben Knapen came to Bulgaria at the invitation of Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and was accompanied by Deputy Interior Minister Dimitar Georgiev.

According to Georgiev, these checks are aimed at directly demonstrating to countries doubting Bulgaria's Schengen preparedness that the country meets Schengen standards.

"We continue working with a very dynamic and extensive international program of the Ministry of Interior and of other institutions, so that the countries that still have doubts and feel that Bulgaria has more to achieve, can come here and make sure that the things that have been achieved are irreversible and that they are marked by a certain sustainability that is very important to us", Georgiev stated.

"We understand Schengen as a privilege, not as an added value for us- we understand it as a big responsibility that is connected to the preservation not only of our border, but also the Schengen area border, once we join it, and that of the EU member states.", he added.

In Romania, which Knapen visited before Bulgaria, the minister said that Holland would not give the green light to the country's accession into Schengen until it was convinced of the irreversible progress of the country in the sphere of justice.

Bulgaria's and Romania's Schengen entry has been facing political opposition in the EU, most notably by the Netherlands, France, Germany whose governments have demanded that the Balkan states' accession to the border-free zone be made conditional on their post-EU accession monitoring, the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism - EC reports issued each July on problem areas such as organized crime and judicial reform, which are technically unrelated to the Schengen criteria already covered by the two Balkan countries. (Source: Sofia News Agency)

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