Sofia, March 12, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
As an external border of the European Union, Bulgaria has made serious efforts and is strictly applying all the provisions of the EU and the Schengen legislation to curb migration pressure, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on March 12 2016.
Borissov was speaking at a meeting in Sofia with Austrian federal interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner and Austrian defence minister Hans Peter Doskozil.
It was important that all countries on the front line could rely on EU support for the proection of the external borders of the EU, Borissov said.
He said that given the measures set out in Bulgaria’s national plan regarding the migrant flow, the country had informed the European Commission about Bulgaria’s additional needs. Borissov added that Bulgaria highly appreciated Austria’s support as well.
Although no new trends in the flow of migrants had been observed, Bulgaria had made preparations for timely action if necessary.
Resources and organisational readiness along the border had been stepped up against the illegal and organised entry of migrants. Amendments to the law had been adopted enabling the participation of Bulgaria’s military to take part of special measures along the border in the event of a large increase in migration pressure, Borissov told the Austrian officials.
Borissov briefed the two Austrian ministers on the letter that he had sent on March 11 to European Council President Donald Tusk, adding that he expected the position set out in the letter to be taken into account in preparing the conclusions for the upcoming meeting of EU state and government leaders.
The letter to Tusk put Borissov’s insistence on the EU providing for the protection of all external borders with Turkey.
Borissov sent the letter in the context of the bloc’s negotiations with Turkey on dealing with migration.
He told Tusk that all EU frontline countries should not be left to cope on their own, but should be able to rely on assistance from the rest of the bloc.
Borissov said that the EU should not concentrate only on the protection of the Greek-Turkish sea border, given that the direction of movement of the migrants is unpredictable.
Stating a position made public earlier this week by Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, Borissov said that the talks with Ankara should also include Turkey’s land border with Greece and Bulgaria, as well as the Black Sea border between the EU and Turkey.
Borissov said that Bulgaria would reject a partial commitment on the part of Turkey with the border around the Greek islands because this would open new routes for the migrants. He said that Bulgaria wants the future agreement with Turkey to include a commitment for protection of Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria.
He said that Bulgaria did not want the issue of lifting the visas for Turkish nationals to be bound with a timeframe, but with the results of the application of the readmission agreement between Turkey and the EU.
Borissov said that Bulgaria wanted the resources necessary for all countries affected by the migration flow to be provided so that the agreement with Turkey on the return of illegal migrants was implemented in reality.