The Cyprus issue will not be solved during the Bulgarian EU presidency, the country’s PM tells CNA

“The Cyprus issue will not be solved during the Bulgarian EU Presidency,” Bulgaria`s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has told CNA, replying to a question on the EU-Turkey customs union agreement and the liberalisation of visas for Turkish nationals.

The Prime Minister, in his answer, explained extensively that “the EU needs to think very seriously about the risks and consequences of the deterioration of its relations with Turkey” and that “if we change our attitude towards Turkey, it should be reflected in the EU defence policy”.

Prime Minister Borisov, responding to a CNA question, whether the Bulgarian presidency will promote the upgrading of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and the liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens, notes: “Bulgaria, as co-chairman of the Council, considers that the sovereign right to decide on these issues is within the Council of Member States itself. In this sense, I can only `think aloud` by answering your question.”

“For many, Turkey is a distant country, but for our friends in Cyprus, Greece, and here in Bulgaria, Turkey is close, it has 80 million population and army that works very efficiently”, the Prime Minister says. “We are following the situation closely” he added, noting that “EU has trade relations with Turkey, we have co-operation on Syria and terrorism. Do we want to deteriorate these relationship?” he wonders. “Do we want to continue to exchange ugly expressions at a high level?”

“In Bulgaria, we have a Muslim minority … we are very careful about national tolerance,” says Boyko Borisov. The Prime Minister explains that in the 1980s and the “Revigoration” process 1,000,000 Muslims left Bulgaria and “we would have had Kosovo at that time if the Warsaw Pact had not been strong”. “We have 1,300 mosques in Bulgaria,” he notes.

“When we were a member of the Warsaw Pact, with 100,000 troops, we had plans to keep the Turks 4 days on the border in the event of an attack, until we received help from the USSR. We will always hold a European stance on Turkey, but if we want it to change, we have to discuss it first- if anything changes, then this must be reflected in defence policy”, Mr Borisov explains.

“I repeat that I just think aloud. Two years ago Davutoglu came and we agreed on the immigration. What if three million immigrants come from Turkey and want to cross the border?” he concluded also mentioning the latest contacts between Erdogan – Macron and between the Turkish and German Foreign Ministers.

source: CNA