Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık expressed appreciation for Bulgaria's support for Turkey's full membership in the EU.
Addressing a large crowd at a ceremony at the Bulgarian Embassy late on Thursday, Işık said that Ankara appreciates the recent positive trend in Turkish-EU relations and he praised Bulgaria's support for Ankara in the EU accession process.
"Bulgaria supports our goal of full membership in the EU. We see the positive progress as beneficial for everyone," Işık said. He also congratulated Bulgaria for its term presidency of the Council of the EU.
Işık commented on the Turkish-Bulgarian population in Bulgaria, as well, saying that Ankara wants them to integrate into the economic, commercial, political and cultural life of Bulgaria. He also pointed to the reopening of Sveti Stefan Church in Istanbul after seven years of restoration. He said that it is "the best sign of the level our relations have reached."
The church was reopened on Jan. 7 with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Bulgarian Ambassador Nadezhda Neynsky also drew attention to the good relations between the two neighboring countries. Calling Turkey a significant partner and an ally, Neynsky said that the two governments cooperate in many areas such as energy, economy, commerce and the fight against terrorism.
Explaining that one of Bulgaria's priorities during the term presidency is relations with Turkey, she said that Sofia will seek to keep all communication channels open with Ankara.
The two countries have well-functioning relations. Borissov has recently commended Turkey for its fight against illegal migration that overwhelmed the European Union. "I think the migrant deal with Turkey is going well," he said, praising Turkey's fight against illegal migration since the deal.
"The migration flow to [Bulgaria] has officially fallen to zero. We have great collaboration with Turkey on border checkpoints. Our border police and coast guard do a great job with their Turkish colleagues," Borissov said.
Bulgaria has also recently gained significance in relation to Ankara's relations with the EU after the country became the term president of the Council of the EU. Bulgaria will also host an EU summit on March 26, to which Turkey will also attend. Erdoğan is expected to be present at the summit.
It will mark a new beginning in Turkish-EU ties after a long period of crises and ultimatums. European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Borissov are expected to meet Erdoğan "to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues," Tusk's spokesman said last month.