Bulgaria Hopes Macron Will ‘Pay Back’ for ‘African Migrants’ Comment with Eurozone, Schengen Backing
Borisov has declared Macron’s words have been misinterpreted but Bulgaria is to protest them nonetheless.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has expressed hopes that French President Emmanuel Macron is going to support Bulgaria’s bid to join the Eurozone and the borderless Schengen Area as a compensation for his recent controversial comment about preferring legal African migrants to “illegal channels” from certain countries in Eastern Europe.
Last week, France’s leader stirred a diplomatic scandal with fellow EU member state Bulgaria as well as with EU hopeful Ukraine with an interview for far-right French magazine Valeurs actuelles (“Current Values”), in which he stated, “I prefer the people who arrive from Guinea or Ivory Coast legally… than the underground (clandestine) Bulgarian or Ukrainian networks.”
In various translations but seemingly incorrect translations of the quote that might stem from fake news media, Macron was misquoted as talking about “Bulgarian and Ukrainian gangs”.
This led to angry diplomatic reactions from both Bulgaria and Ukraine, whose foreign ministries summoned the respective French ambassadors for explanations, while on Monday, the Bulgarian ambassador in Paris Angel Cholakov was due to deliver a protest note to the French foreign ministry.
Bulgaria’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, however, has downplayed the scandal, while seeking to turn it around in order to receive France’s support for his country’s applications to join the Eurozone and the Schengen Area.
“Macron and I have cleared it up about his words, we are now relying on his support for the Eurozone and for Schengen,” Borisov told reporters on Sunday in Sofia’s suburb Bankya while casting his vote in the second round of the Bulgarian local elections won by his center-right party GERB.
The Bulgarian leader revealed he had had a telephone conversation over the controversial quote, with the French leader assuring him that he had not meant to criticize the Bulgarian citizens, migrant workers, or institutions, and reiterating his support for Bulgaria.
“Macron wants to say that there are very bad people who [might] live in Europe – French, Bulgarians, Germans, all kinds – and [there are] these simple people – migrants, who come in and enter, and we are treating them as the [our] greatest enemies – that’s what he had meant to say,” Borisov explained in his own typical wording.
He further reminded that both France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the US President Donald Trump had been participating actively in the recent election of Bulgaria’s former EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva as head of the International Monetary Fund.
“Soon I am going to have a meeting with Macron, and I think that during it, he is going to reiterate what he [just] told me [over the phone],” Borisov said, as cited by the private Focus news agency.
He did point out, however, that Bulgaria’s diplomatic service was going to send a protest note anyway to France’s foreign ministry over the comment of the French President – even if the latter’s words had been misinterpreted.
“Many times when [leaders] are quoted [there are misinterpretations]… I myself said of the Netherlands that when there are drugs sold there as retail, I’m interested to know where the wholesale warehouse is,” added Borisov, seeking to provide an example of a case in which his own words were misinterpreted.
“I hope Macron is now going to pay us back for Schengen, for [joining] the Eurozone waiting room, and for the EU Mobility Package,” stated the Bulgarian Prime Minister who is a former fire-fighter, karate fighter, security businessman, and former bodyguard of Bulgaria’s communist dictator Todor Zhivkov after the latter’s deposing.
(Banner image: Boyko Borisov on Facebook)