Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has promised to help normalise relations between Turkey and the European Union.

“Turkey is the EU’s largest neighbour and has the largest army in the region,” Borisov said at the reopening ceremony of a historic Bulgarian church in Istanbul on January 7.

He called on all sides to do their best to make 2018 a year in which Ankara and the bloc fix and normalise their relations.

Bulgaria holds the EU’s rotating presidency for the next six months.

As reported by China’s Xinhua news agency, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim responded positively. He expressed hope for additional cooperation opportunities to emerge during Bulgaria’s presidency.

Stressing that Turkey is determined to pursue EU membership, Yildirim said: “I believe that during Bulgaria’s EU term presidency, additional cooperation opportunities will emerge and will gain momentum”.

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited France last week, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested a “partnership” rather than full EU membership.