Bulgaria holds out hope of entering visa-free Schengen
(AFP) Bulgaria's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country was holding out hopes to join Europe's visa-free Schengen zone despite strong French opposition over the last week.
"It is still realistic to achieve a staged Schengen accession," Kristian Vigenin told journalists in Sofia, saying he would bring up the issue during a visit to Paris next week.
France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls last week dashed Bulgaria and Romania's hopes of joining the passport-free travel area next year amid a row over Roma migrants from the two EU members.
Vigenin said that EU-wide agreements about the initial opening of the air and sea borders early next year followed by the land borders at a later stage "cannot and should not be linked to subjects that have nothing to do with it."
"If the citizens of Roma origin pose problems, this is something that should be resolved in cooperation between the authorities," Vigenin said.
Bulgaria and Romania's accession into Schengen requires a unanimous vote from its current 26 members. The two countries have already faced opposition from Germany and the Netherlands in the past.