During a visit to Bulgaria last week, the President of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, stated that the non-admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area is economically motivated, and opponents hide behind a false “European values” argument. He said that “Certain interests are trying to be sold in the form of principles or values, but in essence it’s just a bargain and nothing more.” The Croatian President added that the criteria for admission to the Schengen area are “purely political.”
Milanović made the visit to Sofia at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart President Rumen Radev. The Croatian President endorsed Bulgaria’s entry into the Schengen Area and said that Croatia can provide support based on its own experience since his country joined on January 1.
Milanović told reporters, “These things should be discussed openly, just as a number of other things that are discussed in Brussels covertly, sometimes cynically, should be discussed. Specific interests are hidden behind values and principles and deep philosophies, which are actually nothing more than bartering. Bulgaria has been waiting for entry into Schengen for more than 10 years and it is still not known how much longer it will wait. There is no transparency and the criteria are purely political, as they were for Croatia. We had to wait for 7 years even though we fulfilled all the requirements.”
“The moment Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen, the maritime connection to Central Europe via Thessaloniki will be much shorter, compared to the current link across the northern part of the continent,” the Croatian President explained. “Quite frankly, this is about financial interests of the northern members and the rule of law narrative is all but nice words that we in Croatia have been listening to for years.”