Threats from Turkey: Bulgaria prepares for ‘increased flow of migrants’

Written by on March 15, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Threats from Turkey: Bulgaria prepares for ‘increased flow of migrants’

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan showed no intention of refraining from further accusations towards western European countries such as the Netherlands and Germany. Those arguments between Ankara and Europe, over the refusal of some EU countries to let Turkish ministers attend rallies on their soil, might have implications for Bulgaria as well, the caretaker government in Sofia believes.

In his latest rant towards the Netherlands, Erdoğan said: “We know the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8000 Bosnians there.” With this statement, the president of Bulgaria’s southern neighbour Turkey mentioned a very sensitive historical point, but one which had absolutely nothing to do with the latest argument.

Srebrenica was supposed to be a UN safe haven. The town was supposedly protected by Dutch UN peacekeepers during the Bosnian war. On July 11 1995, Serb general Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica with his soldiers, rounded up 8000 boys and men, and had all of them murdered. It was the worst incident of genocide in Europe since Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945. The Dutch peacekeepers, along with the UN, did not prevent it. As a result, the Dutch government stepped down, back then.

Erdoğan’s verbal attacks contained more bad comparisons, which the Dutch and German governments labelled as unacceptable. They contained the accusation of “neo-nazism”. Also, Dutch diplomats are not allowed into Turkey anymore.

Before, the Turkish chief government spokesman Numan Kurtulmuş had threatened, his country would re-evaluate the so-called “EU Turkey Deal”, which prevents tens of thousands of refugees from streaming into Europe. Politicians in EU countries, including Bulgaria, are alarmed.

In the late evening, Bulgaria’s caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov announced that the country had taken “additional measures” by reinforcing the southern border. Gerdzhikov said that he had talked to the interior minister and the State Agency for National Security. Bulgaria was prepared.

Gerdzhikov believes that an “increased flow of migrants”, from Turkey into Bulgaria, is possible “in the next few days”, and he is not alone. Other heads of government in the EU share this opinion. The only difference is that, apart from Greece and Bulgaria, no EU countries share borders with Turkey.

On April 16, Turkish voters will take part in a referendum, in order to vote on changes which would give Turkey a presidential system, with a lot more power and possibilities for Erdoğan. Since the Turkish president seems to believe he needs quarrels with foreign countries in order to convince voters, a quick end of the rants is not likely. So far, Erdoğan has completely ignored pleas from Brussels to tone down his rhetoric.

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “Erdoğan’s tone is getting more and more hysterical, not only against The Netherlands, but also against Germany. We won’t sink to that level. (…)”

Apart from an escalation of the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, the arguments might lead to a formal end of EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

Photo: Bulgarian National Television (BNT)

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com