Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva voiced hope Monday that Turkey's relations with the European Union would improve during her country's turn at the bloc's presidency."Neither the successful protection of the EU's external borders nor the fight against terrorism will succeed without a close partnership with Turkey," Zakharieva told Bulgarian National Television (BNT).
The minister also said Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's just-concluded visit to Turkey had provided an opportunity to discuss bilateral, regional, and global issues.
She accompanied Borissov when he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday. She said that they are "receiving positive signals in EU-Turkish relations."Zakharieva underlined that Turkey is an important economic partner to both Bulgaria and the EU and vowed that relations would be strengthened further.
Despite her optimistic comments on Bulgaria's stance, the country, which took over the rotating EU presidency this term at the beginning of this year, did not mention Turkey in its six-month program.
Commenting on the issue, European Union Harmonization Committee Chairman Mehmet Kasım Gülpınar said the Turkish government expects honesty from the European Union in the upcoming term after the two sides have quarreled on a wide range of issues for a long time.
Gülpınar added that term presidents cannot act independently from the EU. He stressed that Bulgaria is one of the closest countries to Turkey and that Ankara will not accept any option other than full membership.