Ekaterina Zaharieva in Chişinău: “Reforms on the road to the EU are difficult but worthwhile”
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Bulgaria will continue to give its full support to Moldova in the reforms that the country must undertake on the road to the European Union. That was the message that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva delivered in Chişinău at her meetings with Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Galbur.

Zaharieva is paying a two-day visit to the Republic of Moldova.

“Bulgaria went through some very difficult reforms, and many people in my country were asking themselves whether this was worthwhile, but now we can say it really was. In the ten years since Bulgaria joined the EU, our GDP has trebled, our economic growth is 4 per cent, we have one of Europe’s lowest public debts-to-GDP ratios, and people’s income increase every year. But what matters most is that the people of Bulgaria are already self-confident EU citizens: they can travel, work and study anywhere in Europe,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said. She stressed that the reforms which are being carried out by the Government of Moldova are not for the sake of Brussels but for the sake of their own country’s citizens.

Bulgaria was one of the first EU Member States to ratify the EU-Moldova Association Agreement on 27 June 2014, less than a month after it was signed. Our country also backed the European Parliament resolution whereby Moldova was transferred to the positive list under Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, thanks to which the citizens of Moldova holding biometric passports have been able to travel to the EU countries without a visa for short-stay visits since 28 April 2014.

“Thank you very much for supporting us on our road to Europe. We need a perspective and a light at the end of the tunnel, we cannot stand at a crossroads forever,” Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip said, addressing his Bulgarian guest. He invited his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov to visit Moldova.

The Moldovan head of government familiarised Ekaterina Zaharieva with the progress of the judicial and educational reform in his country. The Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister thanked him for the moratorium imposed by the Government of Moldova on the closure of schools in small settlements, which would have affected the regions with a Bulgarian population as well.

“I am happy that we will inaugurate together the Bulgarian Consulate in Taraclia. I hope that it will be used not only for administrative services but also to uphold Bulgarian cultural and language traditions. I think it is important that the Bulgarian language should be studied as well as used in our society,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Galbur at the session with his Bulgarian colleague.

Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva thanked him for the assistance to the opening of the consulate. “The Bulgarians in Taraclia are a bridge between our two countries: we must support their education and Bulgarian business, so that they can contribute to Moldova’s economy,” she said.

The 2014 census found that 51,867 citizens of Bulgarian origin resided in the territory of the Republic of Moldova, mostly in the country’s southern districts, and about 12,000 in Transnistria. The Bulgarians enjoy a minority status and are entitled to dual nationality.

A total of 104 Moldovan residents of Bulgarian origin were admitted to Bulgarian universities on scholarships paid by the Bulgarian State for the 2016/2017 academic year, including 27 studying for a master’s degree, three post-graduates and six doctoral students. For the 2017/2018 academic year, Bulgaria will finance the training of 62 Bulgarian students from Moldova.

Business contacts between the two countries are also gaining momentum. Two-way trade has been increasing steadily, reaching 94.1 million US dollars in 2016. In 2016, 179,034 Moldovan citizens visited Bulgaria for tourism and holidays, 9.1 per cent more than in 2015. Moldovan tourists in Bulgaria numbered 115,775 for January-July 2017, 16.5 per cent more than for the same period of 2016.

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