Deputy PM Gabriel on Cabinet’s Performance, Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Schengen

In a National Radio interview on Sunday morning, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel answered questions covering a broad range of current issues.


“The Cabinet will last as long as there is dialogue, reason and a mechanism in which both government-backing coalitions could share in decision-making,” she said, referring to Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and GERB-UDF. In her words, the atmosphere in the Cabinet is “positive and constructive”. “Despite the differences, it is important that we continue to rally behind common priorities,” Gabriel argued, listing Schengen and eurozone accession and the Recovery and Resilience Plan.


The Deputy PM described Bulgaria’s support for Ukraine as a “civilizational choice”. She believes that this position should be communicated even more actively to the Bulgarian public so that this choice could be clearly understood. “Bulgaria is on the right side of history,” the interviewee added.

Regarding the publication of photos and personal data of Bulgarians designated as enemies of Ukraine on, Gabriel said that this country’s position is that the listing of Bulgarian citizens on that website is inadmissible. She added that this position has been expressed to the Ukrainian authorities and services by the Bulgarian Embassy in Kyiv.


Approached about statements by Russian officials, including the Russian Ambassador in Sofia, with regard to Bulgaria, the Foreign Minister said that Bulgaria reacts promptly in any such case. “We should be clear that we are in an exceedingly complicated situation in which such kind of statements, in my opinion, are yet another attempt, including an aggressive demonstration, at exerting malign influence and meddling in internal affairs,” she pointed out.

Asked what should be done to stop Russia’s disinformation hybrid war, the Deputy PM said that there is no “wonder-working solution” to the problem but national-level coordination is necessary. Gabriel said that Bulgaria will formally join the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Finland on September 12. This will make it possible to conduct very useful exercises in simulated real-life conditions to see how to counter a disinformation campaign and a hybrid attack.

North Macedonia

Gabriel reiterated that Bulgaria does not and will not set new conditions for North Macedonia’s EU accession. She noted that this country is following progress on the compromise reached in July 2022: enacting constitutional amendments that can clearly show that Bulgarians’ rights are guaranteed and observing the Good-Neighbourliness Treaty and the agreed protocols. “It is critical for us to see that the commitments assumed at the EU level are being honoured. Bulgaria insists that EU membership involves commitments and responsibilties,” the Foreign Minister added.


The Deputy PM said that no efforts should be spared to achieve Schengen entry, adding that until October 2023 these efforts should be most vigorous, dynamic and to-the-point about the way the results achieved are presented. In her words, Member States should clearly realize that by admitting Bulgaria to the Schengen area they enhance external border protection while the risks would be far greater if this country is denied entry.