Exasperated by the continued blockade of his country by Greek farmers, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at the EU summit yesterday (18 February) that Greece was not a functioning state.
Greek farmers protesting the pension report of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have been blocking Bulgaria’s border with Greece for several weeks now.
Bulgaria is losing patience with Greek farmers, who have blocked border checkpoints for a third consecutive day today (3 February), protesting against a planned overhaul of the pension system.
Bulgarian-Greek relations are generally excellent, and this outburst signals that what appeared to be a social protest is now taking on an international dimension.
At the EU summit, Borissov said that the counter-blockades, organized by Bulgarian truck drivers, have proved to be the only effective response, as all other means proved to be ineffective.
“In the 21st century, it turned out that this is the only way, in normal functioning states. Unfortunately, at the moment Greece is not one,” Borissov said.
He stated he had twice called his Greek colleague, Alexis Tsipras, without result.
“I called him twice, about the same thing. When the interior minister, the foreign minister, the transport minister call for the same thing, and they don’t send police and gendarmerie to clear the road, which they should have done one month ago, what else can we do?”
Borissov said that the European Commission was trying to help, but Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told him “Boyko, sorry, I have no control over the situation.”
The premier said that the angry Greek farmers should protest another way, without taking the people crossing the Bulgarian border hostage.
“Close your harbors, close them inside the country. Why torture the Bulgarians? And they do it on purpose, at a time when I refuse money to build a fence on the Greek border,” Borissov said.
Indeed, the Bulgarian Prime Minister has reportedly been offered such assistance, from the Visegrad group, to secure the Bulgarian-Greek border, which he refused.
“I refused the assistance of my colleagues to demonstrate loyalty to my neighbors.” Borissov said.
“Europe hears us and understands us, but normal working institutions turn to the Greek government. But the Greek government says that unfortunately it has no control,” he lamented.