His comments came during a press conference held after a meeting with Bulgarian counterpart Mariya Gabriel while stressing that Tallin also backs the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Mentioning Estonia’s support for Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Zone, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mariya Gabriel, reiterated that her country aims to become part of the euro area on January 1, 2025.
Gabriel stressed that Sofia will continue its efforts to abolish land border controls this year.
From March 31 this year, Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen Zone by air and sea, following the agreement reached between these two countries and Austria on the latter’s proposal called “Air Schengen.”
The Council of the European Union said that the date for land border accession for Sofia and Bucharest would be decided only after March 31, 2024.
In spite of his “Air Schengen” proposal, Austria’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, recently stressed that his country continues to maintain its veto when it comes to land border accession.
Karner considered the further expansion of the Schengen Area, in terms of land borders, inappropriate at this stage. However, he stressed that the matter goes beyond Bulgaria and Romania, referring to the migration situation.
It is not just about Romania and Bulgaria. The entire migration system is in a catastrophic situation. Karner
Austria’s Interior Minister emphasized that Austria, together with the two Balkan states, has taken a step forward with the Schengen connection by air and sea, emphasizing that it is needed to move forward step by step. Karner emphasized that it is not for Vienna to set a schedule or adopt any regulations, noting that it is the Commission’s job to ensure that the entire system works.
Following the partial accession to the Schengen Zone, authorities in the EU said that both countries are expected to start issuing Schengen C visas on April 1, 2024.
Schengen Type-C visas are valid for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period in the borderless area of Schengen for different purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family and friends, and study purposes, among others.
From March 31 this year, third-country nationals without an EU passport will consider the time they spend in both these Balkan countries to be the time spent in the Schengen Zone.