"Admitting Croatia and Bulgaria to the Schengen Area and the euro zone as soon as possible is in the interest of these two countries, as well as the entire EU," Croatian Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlic-Radman, said in Bulgaria's capital Sofia on Tuesday.
In Sofia, Grlic-Radman met with Bulgarian counterpart, Svetlan Stoev. They agreed that the “potential for boosting Croatian-Bulgarian cooperation” in the future could be seen in “their mutual support to their common goal: admission to the Schengen Area and euro zone,” state agency Hina cited Grlic-Radman as saying.
Although Bulgaria and Croatia are both members of the European Union – since 2007 and 2013 respectively – neither has yet joined the bloc’s border-less travel area, the so-called Schengen Area, nor the euro zone – group of countries using the EU’s common currency, the euro.
“That is important for deeper integration of Croatia and Bulgaria with our European family, and it is in the interest of the European Union for these goals to be achieved as soon as possible,” Hina quoted Grlic-Radman as saying.
Last week, the Grlic-Radman and Stoev had attended a meeting of the Council of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at the organization’s headquarters in Paris. OECD includes 38 developed economies from around the world, and both Bulgaria and Croatia are hoping to join the group.
Grlic-Radman said today that both Croatia and Bulgaria “had been given assurances” that they had already met the requirements for membership of the OECD.
Stoev and Grlic-Radman also “discussed the EU membership prospects of Southeast European countries,” the press release cited by Hina said.
Grlic-Radman “pointed out the importance” of continuing the process of enlargement to the benefit of the aspirants as well as to the benefit of the whole EU, “provided that candidates met all the criteria,” Hina said.
Bulgaria, which keeps insisting that North Macedonia should recognise “the Bulgarian roots of the Macedonian identity and language,” has imposed this as a precondition for European Union’s opening of accession talks with that country.
Grlic-Radman said he was confident that the two countries would “solve this issue in the European spirit” and that Bulgaria “wants an equal European perspective for North Macedonia,” Hina said.