BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Bulgaria's foreign minister said Wednesday her country will finally complete reforms to its judicial system by the end of 2018 in order to end a decade of EU monitoring — "which can't go on forever."
During a visit to Romania, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said Bulgaria is committed to fulfilling 17 recommendations to reach "an irreversible result" with reforms.
The EU is still monitoring the two countries' progress on judicial reform and fighting corruption under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism implemented when Romania and Bulgaria joined the bloc in 2007.
Bulgaria takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in January 2018. Neighboring Romania begins its six-month presidency in January 2019.
Neither country is yet part of the visa-free Schengen travel zone, but both hope to join the association shortly. Zaharieva insisted both Bulgaria and Romania had "fulfilled the technical criteria," and should be allowed in.
"Bulgaria and Romania joining Schengen is a security problem for all of Europe. ... We hope that the political decision taken in the European Parliament and Council, to become reality as soon as possible," she said.
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said there would be a meeting of the foreign ministers of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece this month in a move to improve regional cooperation.