Hundreds of Bulgarian lorry drivers blocked the two main checkpoints on the border with Turkey on May 9 in protest against what they described as discriminatory policies by Turkish authorities.
Drivers blocked traffic for seven hours, which resulted in a queue of hundreds of lorries on both sides of the border. Cars, however, were allowed to pass unhindered.
Representatives of Bulgarian hauling industry associations said that the reason for the blockade were discriminatory policies targeting Bulgarian drivers. According to the industry groups, these included restrictions on entering the country – for example, a lorry carrying goods from Germany could enter Turkey only eight days after leaving its point of origin, which resulted in lorries often spending days at the Turkish border before being allowed into the country.
The industry groups also claim to have obtained an internal directive of the Turkish customs authority, which ordered “extra checks” of Bulgarian lorries, causing further delays of shipments.
The goal of the regulations was to help Turkey’s cargo hauling industry by making it more difficult for Bulgarian firms to handle transportation of goods from and to Turkey, the lobby groups claimed.
While the regulations have been in place for some time, the tension has escalated over the past month, resulting in the blockade on May 9, Bulgaria’s Deputy Transport Minister Albena Lazarova said, as quoted by Bulgarian news agency Focus.
Lazarova met with representatives of the hauling industry at the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint and said that Bulgaria’s Transport Ministry asked for an urgent meeting with Turkish officials to resolve the issue. Even though the blockade was lifted, the risk of future blockage in the future remained, she said.