Bulgaria is unable to accept more economic migrants, while Europe is also “gasping”, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on September 4.
Borissov’s statement came a day after European Council President Donald Tusk, speaking before the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, said: “the practical capabilities of Europe to host new waves of refugees, not to mention irregular economic migrants, are close to the limits”.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister, who on August 31 spoke on the phone with Tusk ahead of a meeting of EU leaders to be held in Bratislava on September 16, said that Tusk had practically confirmed his words that Europe should shut its external borders and admit only political migrants until the problems were solved.
Borissov said that Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov now had the task, at the next meeting with the foreign minister of Afghanistan, to raise the issue of the returning of Afghan citizens to that country.
“We spend 80 million leva a year to keep a contingent in Afghanistan, and at this time it is peaceful and calm there. Now it would be good for them to meet and keep their commitments. It is not possible for us to accept more economic migrants,” Borissov said.
Citizens of Afghanistan make up among the largest groups of people who cross the border into Bulgaria illicitly.
Foreign Minister Mitov, also speaking on September 4, said that Europe had exhausted its capacity to accept more migrnts and if the pressure continues, the social and educational systems of EU countries will go bankrupt.
Mitov, who attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bratislava on September 2, said that it had been agreed that on the question of the Turkey that “we need to stop talking about each other and go over to start talking to each other”.
He said that dialogue should continue on the management of the refugee crisis, the issue of visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens and the implementation of the criteria that Turkey has to meet to obtain this liberalisation.
At bilateral level, Bulgaria should also work with Turkey so that it can implement the readmission agreement, to have a mechanism by which to return third-country nationals that have illegally crossed the border, Mitov said.
It is clear that no democratic government would support the change of power through a national revolution, but at the same time democracy is not just about results of elections, but a wide range of requirements – respect for human rights, separation of powers, rule of law, Mitov said.
Mitov said that the focus should be on countries generating the migratory flow. They must be given not only technical assistance, but also support for building institutions to create conditions so that citizens do not leave them. It is important to create an economic and social environment that enables people in these countries to have stability and not need to migrate to Europe or elsewhere, he said.
Tusk told reporters before the G20 summit in Hangzhou that the migrant and refugee crisis was one of three issues he would be raising, alongside terrorism and climate change.
The migration and refugee crisis was a global challenge that requires global solutions based on order, responsibility and solidarity, Tusk said.
In light of an unprecedented number of 65 million displaced people all over the world, the G20 community needs to scale up its share of responsibility, he said.
“Only global efforts supporting refugees and their host communities will be able to bear fruit. That is why we want to encourage our partners to increase humanitarian and development aid, as well as refugee resettlement. We need to address the root causes that force millions of people to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere.”
Tusk said that the G20 has the expertise to make practical contributions through trade, development cooperation and refugees’ access to education and labour market, and it must make use of it.
“We will urge the G20 to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming summits on refugees and migrants hosted by the UN and President Obama to increase aid and resettlements by countries outside Europe.
“It is even more important in view of the fact that the practical capabilities of Europe to host new waves of refugees, not to mention irregular economic migrants, are close to the limits,” Tusk said.