Bulgarian PM praises Macedonia, slams Greece over migrant crisis

Jean-Claude Juncker and Boyko Borissov on 7 March 2016. [European Council]

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said today (25 March) the main threat of a migrant wave for his country came from EU-member Greece, not from Macedonia – an EU-candidate county who he said was behaving responsively and effectively in dealing with the challenge.

Bulgaria fears that the closure of the Balkan route at the Greece-Macedonia border would create an alternative route across its territory.

Borissov made his comments in the Bulgarian parliament, answering questions from MPs. He said that Turkey was motivated not to allow refugees crossing into the EU, adding that “the real problem will come from Greece”.


Bulgaria fears becoming alternative route for refugees

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has asked that the plan to return migrants arriving in Greece to Turkey, also applies to his country, the press in Sofia reports ahead of the EU summit beginning today (17 March).

As refugee exodus to Greece continues, some take Bulgarian route

More than 1,000 refugees arrived at Greece’s biggest port of Piraeus near Athens yesterday (13 January) as the influx of refugees fleeing conflict zones for Europe continued unabated into the winter months.

“My finding is that in a poor Macedonia refugee camps are covered with gravel, with concrete, they have playgrounds, everything is in very good condition, while in Greece, which take millions of euros [from EU], there is nothing and the conditions are really appalling,” Borissov said.

He also said that Bulgaria was ready to build a “light” fence along its border with Greece, if necessary. The announcement was first made by Defence Minister Nikolay Nenkov.

Bulgaria has built a fence along its border with Turkey, but had not previously contemplated to build a a barrier along the border with Greece, a Schengen member. Bulgaria has fulfilled all conditions to join Schengen for several years now, but has been prevented by certain EU-member states, in particular the Netherlands.

According to reports, the Dutch fear that if Romania and Bulgaria join Schengen, the harbour of Constanta in Romania and the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Bourgas would become competitors to Rotterdam.

Borissov said that the military exercise “Frontier 2016” would allow the army and the Interior Ministry to unite their efforts for border security. He explained that this exercise would  not be the only one and even now exercises take place in the region of Gotse Delchev (close to the Greek border) and elsewhere.

Refugees frustrated in a Greek cul-de-sac

Uncertainty is rife among refugees on Greek soil as no one has told them what will happen next or how to proceed. Germany’s interior minister has offered help to Athens, but downplayed the seriousness of their situation. EURACTIV’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

Migrants at the Idomeni makeshift camp on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia are protesting against the closing of borders on the Balkan route.

The Greek press highlighted the seriousness of the situation following the withdrawal of many NGOs from Idomeni, where there is no longer anyone to look after the health of the migrants.

NGOs abandon Greece, oppose EU-Turkey refugee plan

NGOs helping the Greek government cope with the refugee crisis have decided to cease operations for practical reasons, as well as in opposition to the “inhumane” EU-Turkey deal. EURACTIV Greece reports.


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