Bulgaria bracing for refugee inflow as result of Syria crisis
The consultative Security Council of the Bulgarian Government met on August 30 to discuss the potential risks to the country should the Syrian crisis escalate, concluding that the main danger to Bulgaria was an inflow of refugees.
Recent weeks have brought almost daily news about illegal immigrants being stopped at the Bulgarian-Turkish border, and about 2320 people have sought asylum in Bulgaria this year. The total figure for 2012 was about 1000.
Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said after the meeting that the council approved an 11-point action plan, which will include stepping up border controls, but also finding additional temporary housing for refugees, as well as setting up a co-ordinating unit in Sofia and local operations headquarters in the towns of Elhovo and Haskovo near the border with Turkey.
Yovchev said that the council discussed the prospect of a terrorist attack against Bulgaria, but said the country’s authorities currently had no indication that such an attack might be under preparation. Nevertheless, Bulgaria would review and update, if necessary, its national plan for fighting terrorism, he said.
“We also discussed the possible economic and financial risks for Bulgaria. Our belief is that we can expect a negative impact, but not to a degree that would endanger national security,” he said.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin re-iterated the ministry’s warning to Bulgarian citizens against travelling to Syria. He said that the ministry was monitoring the situation and was prepared to evacuate Bulgarian nationals if the situation escalated.
Vigenin said that the foreign ministry was also undertaking necessary measures to step up security at embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East.
Defence Minister Angel Naidenov said that the council did not discuss any Bulgarian participation in a military action in Syria, insofar as Bulgaria has not been formally approached with a request in that sense. He said that the “probability of a military operation” remained high.
(Cabinet building in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)