Bulgaria proposes to take over EU truck cargo, drive it to Turkey

Borissov at Uzundjovo on 26 March 2020.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will propose to EU leaders during their teleconference on Thursday (26 March) that his country would transship goods of trucks from EU countries going to Turkey. The alternative is that EU drivers would wait 14 days before being allowed to enter Turkey.

In the last days, huge queues of trucks have been formed at the Bulgaria-Turkish border of Kapitan Andreevo, after Turkey adopted drastic measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ankara does not allow truck drivers from a list of 67 countries, including most EU countries but excluding Bulgaria, to enter Turkish territory.

A few days ago Bulgaria started building what is probably the largest parking for trucks in the world, at the airport of Uzundjovo, close to the Turkish border. Uzudjovo airport, dating from the Cold War period, hasn’t been used as such since 1992.

The idea is that Bulgaria, with its powerful transport sector, could download the goods of EU trucks at Uzudjovo, upload them on its own fleet and proceed to Turkey. The alternative for the EU trucks is that they spend 14 days of quarantine at Uzundjovo.

Borissov visited Uzundjovo and wrote on Facebook:

“I gave a deadline by tomorrow everything to be ready – toilets, water, food outlets, lighting. So if the crisis deepens, there is now a place for drivers to stay. Our respective ministers are in constant contact with their Turkish counterparts, and we are doing our best to solve the problem.”

He said the queue of trucks was diminishing and “within a few days the situation needs to normalize. Before we introduced these measures, 400 trucks were processed per 24 hours. Now their number has increased nearly 3 times over the same period”.

He explained that Turkey wants every driver to spend the necessary quarantine period in Bulgaria before entering its territory, “but we cannot let these trucks queue at our external borders”.

“However, the Turkish side does not require quarantine from Bulgarian trucks. That is why I will propose to the European Council tonight that the European trucks with loads for Turkey and the Middle East be transhipped in Bulgaria on Bulgarian trucks, so that they can easily pass to our southern neighbour.”

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told national channel BNT that there were two options: either Bulgarian trucks would pull EU trailers into Turkish territory, or the trailers would be uploaded on trains.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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