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Bulgaria to Join Schengen Step by Step, Following Poland's Example

Date: 13.07.2011

We need each other. The word 'solidarity' means a lot for us says Grazyna Maria Bernatowicz

Grazyna Maria Bernatowicz is a career diplomat of wide experience, especially in European issues. She has graduated in law and journalism and holds a PhD in political science. Her diplomatic career started in 1993, with a number of high positions with Poland's Foreign Ministry. In 2000-2002 she was Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland and after that served as Polish ambassador in Spain until 2007. Her current office is Poland's Minister of European Affairs. Mrs. Bernatowicz has authored more than 70 books and studies in Polish and other languages, dedicated to Southern Europe, European integration and regional cooperation. She is married and has two sons. She held consultations at Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry, in Sofia, and took part in a conference dedicated to the commencing Polish Presidency of the EU together with Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov.

- Mrs. Bernatowicz, this is your second visit to Bulgaria in less than two years. Also, the Prime Ministers of our two countries, Donald Tusk and Boyko Borissov met twice in the past few months. What do these intense contacts mean?

- Probably, personal ties mean a lot for our Prime Ministers. But there were a number of other important events in addition to their meetings such as, for instance, talks between the ministers of defense, of justice and of regional development of our two countries. The truth is that Bulgaria and Poland have a lot in common, not only a common past, but also a common future, especially in the EU and in the sector of common financial and agricultural policy.

- What is the specific goal in this case? You are the first high ranking Polish diplomat, who visits an EU country immediately after Poland assumed the rotating EU presidency.

- I would like to present our priorities. In the whole they are well known, but I would like to go into more details. I would like our Bulgarian partners to support Poland during the rotating presidency. I took part in a conference organized by the European Institute in Sofia and Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov participated, too. We are discussing important issues concerning the European Union, Poland and Bulgaria. We take note to important financial matters and to political issues as Schengen and others as well.

- Poland supports Bulgaria for her accession to the Schengen zone in general. Could we expect to join the Schengen during Poland's rotating presidency?

- Poland, as well as Hungary, supports the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen agreement. This should happen without any additional requirements, because the situation in Europe is changing. Poland is against the establishment of additional requirements, against this EU member states to leave the Schengen zone and to close their internal borders and we support the joining of Bulgaria and Romania.

- In practice how do you see Bulgaria's accession to Schengen?

- Perhaps it will happen at stages, by starting with the free movement at airports and then through the inland borders. This is how Poland's accession happened - at stages. But as long as you are well prepared, you will have to join the area.

- During Poland's EU Presidency how will Bulgarian-Polish relations develop? I mean not only the political contacts and relations.

- We have not only very good political ties with Bulgaria but also perfect economic relations. Together, though, we can accomplish many new things. For instance Bulgarian and Polish companies may be stirred to cooperate through the establishment of consortiums in the spheres of environmentally-friendly technologies. We can also develop our relations in the economy, the cultural relations, the cooperation in agriculture. Bulgaria and Poland produce different agricultural products and are not rivals but complement each other. There is future for the Bulgarian investments in Poland and for the Polish investments in Bulgaria. I would like to point out that the numbers of Polish tourists in Bulgaria increase every year.

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