Croatia’s President to Pay Two-Day Visit to Bulgaria

Kolinda Grabar-KitarovicCroatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is is set to visit Bulgaria on Wednesday and Thursday.

Grabar-Kitarovic is coming at the invitation of her Bulgarian counterpart, Rosen Plevneliev, the latter’s press office has said.

After meeting privately at the Bulgarian Presidency on Wednesday morning, officials talks of delegations of Bulgaria and Croatia will be held to discuss bilateral relations and trade, regional cooperation, energy security, migration, and the fight against terrorism,

A Croatian-Bulgarian business forum has been scheduled for Thursday and will be inaugurated by the two heads of state.

Croatia‘s President will also meet Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva.

Also on Thursday, she is to hold a public lecture on solidarity in the EU, scheduled for 10.30 at the Sofia University.

Bulgaria’s Catholics Demand Pope Visit, Vatican State Secretary Says

katolicVatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said on Monday he would tell Pope Francis about the Bulgarian Catholic community’s wish that he pays a visit to the country.

Parolin, however, made clear his own trip to Bulgaria did not necessarily mean the Pope was intending on the same step in the near future.

His visit was scheduled to coincide with Catholic celebrations of Palm Sunday and the consecration of a Catholic temple. It was also tied to the 25th anniversary of relations between the Vatican and Bulgaria that is being marked this year.

He also met Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Monday.

Bulgaria, Palestine Pave Way for Deeper Ties during PM Visit to Ramallah

Bulgaria-PalestineBulgaria‘s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has welcomed the signing of a memorandum between Bulgaria and Palestinian authority which creates a joint ministerial committee.

Borisov was on a visit to Ramallah on Wednesday where he met counterpart Rami Hamdallah.

The two heads of government attended the signing ceremony which involved the two respective foreign ministers. Bulgaria‘s top diplomat Daniel Mitov said after the signatures were placed the document was bringing about opportunities to boost cooperation in areas such as economy, trade, agriculture, and internal affaris, according to the government press office.

For his part Borisov noted bilateral trade has much potential, with the food industry in Bulgaria recording notable increase in exports to Palestine and with a useful experience in tourism and infrastructure that Sofia could offer.

Borisov also had a conversation with the Palestinian authority‘s President, Mahmoud Abbas.

He said Bulgaria welcomed all kings of initiatives that could lead to a “positive development of the Middle East Peace Process”.

PM Borisov Calls for Immediately Closing EU’s External Borders

Bulgarian Prime Minister called on Friday for an immediate closure of the external borders of the EU in view of the ongoing migrant crisis.

Borisov said this during a joint briefing with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban who arrived on a visit to Bulgaria on Thursday evening.

The Bulgarian prime minister noted that European leaders have failed to reach consensus on this issue at several meetings of the European Council.

He expressed hope that at the forthcoming meetings of the European Council the European leaders will be fairer towards the migrants. In his words, Europe could no longer sustain the refugee influx. According to him, the return of migrants once they have reached western Europe was even more inhumane than halting them at the external borders.

Borisov was convinced that if earlier calls for closing the external borders had been heard half a year ago, there would have been need for fewer migrants to be returned. He was firm that the stance of the EU should take into account the common European solidarity as no single state should be left on its own to deal with all the refugees.

During the press conference, Orban called on the EU to admit the success of Bulgaria in dealing with the refugee crisis and to offer the country membership to the Schengen Area.

Bulgarian Government Plans to Grant Pensioners BGN 50 M in Easter Bonuses

BG_MoneyThe Bulgarian government is planning to allocate BGN 50 M to pensioners in Easter bonuses. This was announced by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Saturday, daily Dnevnik reports.

The bonuses will be allocated from the revenues collected in the fight against contraband. Borisov said that the revenues collected in the fight against contraband in January exceeded the amount generated in the same month last year with nearly BGN 1 B.

Thus the prime minister has ordered to Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov to grant pensioners with BGN 50 M in Easter bonuses. Borisov estimated that since last year nearly BGN 200 M have been allocated to pensions outside the budget.

According to private bTV station, nearly 1 300 000 pensioners will be granted an Easter bonus of BGN 40.

It is expected that the poverty line will be the criteria which will determine whether pensioners will be eligible to receive the bonus.

At the beginning of this year, the poverty line was increased to BGN 300 and it is expected that pensioners whose pension is below this amount will be granted a bonus.

Bulgaria PM Borisov Meeting Turkey’s Davutoglu

Bulgaria PM Borisov Meeting Turkey's DavutogluThe migrant crisis and the aftermath of a deadly bombing that killed 97 people in Turkey last week is on the agenda of the Bulgarian and Turkish PMs’ meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Private national bTV station reports that PM Boyko Borisov‘s visit is taking place amid tightened security measures.

Borisov had announced after the Saturday incident that he would take a trip to Istanbul “even only for an hour” to extend his condolence to counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu personally and to discuss cooperation on the migrant crisis, before taking part in a global forum and then heading to Brussels for another event.

Bulgaria PM Skeptical of EU Approach to Migrant Crisis

Borisov_3 (2)Only with the cooperation of both the United States and Russia can the conflict in Syria be solved, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said.

Speaking in front of reporters in Parliament, where he arrived to urge support for constitutional changes, he also commented on the migrant crisis and the roots it has in the Syrian conflict.

His remark comes just hours before an EU summit begins Wednesday to affirm leaders’ commitment to a migrant relocation plan adopted by interior ministers on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of refugees in Italy and Greece are to be relocated to other EU member states under the quota scheme opposed by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania.

Borisov, however, has raised doubt as to whether the decision – also backed by Bulgaria – will yield any results.

In his words, Europe alone could not solve the crisis.

“I am going to attend the council, to spend money and to say what I am also telling you – and what won’t be heard.”

“I am departing for Brussels with displeasure. Interior ministers failed to agree, lots of money will again be spent on this extraordinary council, [the issue is being tackled] on the surface, solutions are sought that can in no way solve the problem,” the Bulgarian News Agency quotes him as saying.

“We have declared: give us 1200 people and we end with quotas, but they won’t decide upon it,” Borisov has warned, possibly referring to statements by other government officials according to whom quotas are not permanent solution since more relocation waves will be needed in the future.

Bulgaria’s PM, Montenegro’s President Discuss Opportunities for Power Exports to Italy

Bulgaria’s PM, Montenegro’s PresidentPrime Minister Boyko Borisov has suggested at a meeting with Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic that Bulgaria may use a high-voltage link between Montenegro and Italy, which is yet to be completed, in order to export electricity to Italy.

Borisov and Vujanovic met Friday at the Council of Ministers building in Sofia, according to the press office of the Bulgarian government.

The two discussed opportunities for cooperation in the spheres of energy and tourism.

Work is currently underway to update the existing agreement in the sphere of tourism and the launch of a direct flight Sofia-Podgorica is being discussed, according to the media statement.

The implementation of the measures included in the bilateral program for scientific and technical cooperation is also expected to have a positive economic impact.

Borisov confirmed Bulgaria’s support for Montenegro’s accession to Euro-Atlantic structures and offered help in the negotiation process.

Bulgaria’s PM Reiterates Support for Macedonia’s Bid to Join NATO, EU

Boyko BorisovPrime Minister Boyko Borisov has reiterated Bulgaria’s support for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Macedonia.

Responding to a question of former Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin, Borisov stressed that the policy of the Bulgarian government on Macedonia was consistent and had remained unchanged.

“We have expressed readiness to participate in discussions and provide expert assistance on concrete matters related to our experience so that the country registers progress with its EU and NATO membership bids,” Borisov said in Parliament, as cited by the BGNES news agency.

He emphasized that Bulgaria had made it clear that it expected for Macedonia to make every effort to fulfill all EU membership criteria, including the principle of good neighborliness.

Borisov noted that Bulgaria would keep insisting on the need to sign a neighborhood and co-operation treaty, adding that it was considered a major priority of the government.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister emphasized that the treaty presented no additional requirements to Macedonia but would make the political agreement legally binding.

He claimed that it was only the EU integration of the countries in the region that would help affirm peace and stability in Southeast Europe, stressing that the Bulgarian government would strive to defend the rights and interests of the Bulgarian communities in the country in the process.

Bulgaria PM in EU Commission for South Stream Talks

Bulgaria PM in EU Commission for South Stream TalksBulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is due to meet EU Commission Vice President Maroš Šef?ovi? on Monday, the government’s press office has said.

The abandoned South Stream gas project, Bulgaria’s alternatives to guarantee energy security, and its effort to put forward a gas hub project as a substitute to the scrapped pipeline are to top the two politicians’ agenda.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in December Russia was renouncing the South Stream pipeline over Sofia’s reluctance to unlock construction, Bulgaria is pinning its hopes on a proposal to build a gas hub where South Stream‘s landfall was supposed to be located. This would involve completing the pipeline’s offshore section.

The EU had resisted South Stream as it had been planned, arguing it would infringe its common rules.

Talks between Borisov and Šef?ovi?, who oversees Europe’s efforts toward an Energy Union, come two days ahead of the latter’s visit to Moscow, where he is set to meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

The Prime Minister is to meet two more officials, Corina Cre?u (Commissioner for Regional Policy) and Kristalina Georgieva (Vice President for Budget and Human Resources).

A delegation accompanying him includes his deputy Tomislav Donchev and also the Energy Minister, Temenuzhka Petkova.