By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
A continuing dispute about the issuing of transit permits led to a two-kilometre queue of lorries at the Bulgarian-Turkish border on February 3 2014.
Emil Buyukliev of the Bulgarian association of road transport carriers advised Bulgarian truck against travelling to the border with Turkey until the dispute was resolved.
The problem is a shortage of permits issued by Bulgaria, reportedly in a tit-for-tat move in response to restrictions on transit permits by Turkey.
The dispute, which has erupted before, re-emerged in late January and the Turkish transport ministry gave its Bulgarian counterparts until January 30 to address the issue, which as yet has not been resolved.
Local media said that Turkey had stopped receiving Bulgarian commercial freight transport and the Kapikule border crossing and in retaliation, Bulgaria closed the border to Turkish lorries at Kapitan Andreevo.
Buyukliev said that a meeting would be held at Bulgaria’s transport ministry on February 3 with all road transport industry associations to decide what to do.
He said that there was a willingness to compromise, “but for many years we always have made compromises, resulting in our carriers being disadvantaged”.
According to Buyukliev, there were always problems with the permits from Turkey, being slow and creating obstacles for Bulgarian carriers.
He said that it came down to a matter of business: “Our trucks compete with Turkish trucks. Turkish carriers want us eliminated from this market in order to reduce the number of Bulgarian carriers.
“It is this competition that is creating such problems at the moment. Everyone is losing in this situation – our carriers are losing out, and the Turkish ones perhaps even more,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said that he hoped that within a few days, a solution would be achieved.