Von der Leyen, Michel Visit Bulgaria, Overfly Southern Border
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel were welcomed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at the Kapitan Petko Voyvoda Checkpoint after visiting Greece in connection with the migrant crisis. They discussed ways in which the EU can help the countries affected to cope with the situation.
Overflying by helicopter Bulgaria's southern border, the EU leaders observed the border facilities, shown to them by Borissov. From there, they proceeded to Sofia for a discussion with the Bulgarian head of government on the current migrant pressure situation, Borissov's meeting with Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara on Monday evening, and developments in Syria.
At the border, the PM commented to journalists that his tactic seeks good-neighbourliness and peace. "A conflict in the region implies less investments, lower growth, less tourism and concerned people," he said. Borissov noted that his Government "is acting in a quiet, disciplined and sensible way". "We do not act against our neighbours, and I think this is highly appreciated in Europe," he added. "Unless a wise policy is pursued, things end up as they are now at the Greek-Turkish border," the Prime Minister observed.
Emerging from their hour-and-a-half meeting here on Tuesday evening, von der Leyen told the media that they had very interesting and intensive talks about the strategic approach in the region to migration and how to engage with Turkey. "I must say it was very interesting and valuable for us to draw on the broad experience that the PM has in the region and the long years of dealing with the good neighbourhood, it was for us very important information and very important experience," the European Commission President said. She described Borissov as "a friend and a true European".
For his part, Michel expressed gratitude for the excellent cooperation between Borissov, the Bulgarian Government and the EU. He appreciated Bulgaria's commitment to protecting its borders, which is crucial for the EU.
"You can count on the European solidarity, in case of necessity we will be present to support you," the European Council President promised.
"We also had today an important exchange of views at the European level. We shared that it is important for the EU and for the Member States to act together and be more assertive and more efficient at international level," Michel said further on. "We need unity, and we need a vision for the future. The meeting today was an occasion to improve the understanding of what the common challenges are."
"What we agreed today is to continue with all our will to work for goodneighbourliness, understanding, peaceful and amicable settlement of the conflicts in our region" Borissov said at the news briefing. "We are convinced that this understanding alone can enable us to address the migrant crisis and not just it. "We are showing will and patience, we want to live in peace in the region," the Prime Minister said.