Political row in Bulgaria over European Parliament migration resolution

Written by on October 28, 2016 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Political row in Bulgaria over European Parliament migration resolution
General view of the European Parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg during the speech on the "State of the Union Address 2013" by José Manuel Barroso

Bulgaria’s largest parliamentary party GERB and the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition have launched verbal attacks on the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, saying their MEPs backed a European Parliament resolution that effectively encourages illegal migration.

The 93-point resolution on human rights and migration in third countries was adopted by the European Parliament on October 25.

At a news briefing in the National Assembly, GERB MP Galia Zaharieva quoted extracts from the EP resolutio on the need “to avoid creating separate districts for migrants, by promoting inclusion and the opportunity to take up all the social opportunities on offer”; and that the EP “considers that migration is recognised globally as being a powerful tool for sustainable and inclusive development.”

Zaharieva said that the resolution indicated that migration was beneficial. At the same time, she hit out at the opposition parties, including the BSP, for being critical about the Bulgarian government’s handling of migration and she accused the opposition of being alarmist in making false claims about the migration situtation in Bulgaria.

Valeri Simeonov, co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the coalition government arrangement, said that the BSP and MRF MEPs who had backed the resolution should be withdrawn from their posts and replaced by others further down the lists.

Simeonov said that the EP resolution had been adopted by 339 to 333 votes, meaning that the votes of the Bulgarian MEPs had been crucial to it being approved. He described the resolution as “dangerous and harmful” to Bulgaria because the country was at the forefront “of this new war with migration”.

“We cannot accept as normal that, with furious anger and enthusiasm and the aggressive egomania of a rising folk music singer, the leader of the BSP travels Bulgaria, inspiring fear and terror in people that a refugee camp will be opened in every village, and at the same time, the representatives of the same party stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, with the MRF to vote for a decision so harmful and dangerous to Bulgaria,” Simeonov said.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that her party distanced itself from the resolution, which she described as inconsistent with the BSP’s policies. The MEPs would be asked next week to explain to a meeting of the BSP executive bureau why they had supported the resolution, Ninova said.

The row comes just more than a week before Bulgarians go to the polls in the first round of presidential elections, in which nationalists and socialist candidates have sought to make illegal migration and refugees a campaign issue.

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