Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wanted to have as soon as possible a meeting with the new Bulgarian President. I am, as everyone knows, a big fan of Bulgaria. This is the 10th anniversary of the Bulgarian accession to the European Union. I will never forget that particular moment in 2005 when – as a Prime Minister of Luxembourg – I was signing the Accession Treaty of Bulgaria in Luxembourg. This is one explanation for my friendship for Bulgaria, but the other is that I used to have excellent relations in my former capacity – and now here as President of the European Commission – with all the Bulgarian governments and Prime Ministers I have known. I am a good friend of Boyko Borissov, as everyone knows and I had good relations with others.
I was discussing with the new President a certain number of issues, mainly – as he is a former General – defence matters. He knows much more than I know on this matter. But I am happy that the Bulgarian President is supporting the defence agenda of the European Commission. That is good news for us. We were discussing the migration crisis. I was we re-offering to Bulgaria via its President all the support the Commission can provide for Bulgaria. We have done a lot of efforts at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. If other efforts are needed, we are ready to do so.
I was also re-explaining to the President that, as far as the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is concerned, I want to get rid of this mechanism before the end of the mandate of this Commission. Huge progress has been made in the last years. There are remaining efforts to be done, but I was happy to learn that the Bulgarian President is very much committed to a successful completion of these efforts. And I trust the Bulgarian authorities to do so.
We were briefly discussing the economic situation of the country. Bulgaria has made huge progress in the last ten years. But there too, further efforts have to be done. We were discussing the fight against organised crime and against corruption, which are two issues the European Commission is observing and watching very closely. So this was a friendly and good meeting.
Questions & Answers
Q1. Did you discuss the nomination of the next Bulgarian Commissioner, the names, when the nomination will take place and the portfolio?
President Juncker: I have some understanding – total understanding – for the fact that Bulgaria wants to propose a Commissioner after the general elections. I have understanding for that. I agree it should be done in May, let us say. We were not discussing names, nor portfolios. Anyway, the portfolio decision is a decision by the President of the Commission and not by the government, so I was only indicating to the President that I would like a Bulgarian lady to be the next Commissioner – we have enough guys.
Q2. Before I ask my question, just a small remark, Mr President: Bulgaria is the only country of all 28 countries who has never had a male Commissioner, I think we have free quota.
President Juncker: You have to pursue your tradition.
Journalist: My question is on Russia and on sanctions. Did you discuss this issue and what can you disclose from this exchange?
President Juncker: We were discussing our relations – the relations between the European Union and Russia – in a not too intense way, but I do not think there are major divergences between the President and the Commission when it comes to the sanctions against Russia. We have taken our decisions, these decisions are valid, and when we have to come back to this decision we will do so. But this is not the time for change.