Bulgaria awaits clarity whether Turkey is keeping to refugee readmission deal

Written by on June 17, 2016 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria awaits clarity whether Turkey is keeping to refugee readmission deal

A question mark hangs over whether Turkey is keeping to an agreement with Bulgaria over the readmission of refugees.

The issue became public on June 16, when Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that under the agreement, Bulgaria was attempting to return 200 refugees to Turkey but that there was no response from the Turkish side.

Media reports at the time suggested that Ankara was retaliating against Bulgaria’s reluctance to take part in a mooted plan for a joint maritime security project, also involving Romania, on the Black Sea. On June 16, local media reported the Turkish embassy in Sofia as denying that the readmission agreement was not being kept to.

By June 17, there had been no official word from Ankara.

Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova said that the readmission agreement with Turkey had come into force on June 1.

Documents had been drawn up to return 200 people to Turkey under the agreement, but so far Bulgaria had not received any response from Turkey within the deadline specified in the agreement.

“We have information that the Turkish side refrained from implementing their obligations under this agreement with arguments relating to relations with processes under way in negotiations with the EU,” Buchvarova said.

She said tht Bulgaria had planned for such a scenario and had measures, both operational and diplomatic, to be taken should the situation at the Bulgarian-Turkish border change. Buchvarova added that Bulgaria was monitoring this situation continuously.

“We expect different variations, from the lightest to the most dangerous, but I hope that even if Turkey fails to fulfil its obligations under the readmission agreement, we shall continue to maintain good relations at an operational level and that the situation will not change significantly.”

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova. Photo: Interior Ministry press centre.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova. Photo: Interior Ministry press centre.

Buchvarova said that communication was continuing between officials employed at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and “we have not been alerted to a problem in this regard.” She expressed hope that in a worst-case scenario, this would not change.

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