A flow of refugees from Macedonia is not expected, the head of Bulgaria’s State Agency for Refugees, Nikola Kazakov, said in a television interview on May 18.
The neighbouring former Yugoslav republic is in the throes of political turbulence as Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski is facing huge public protests demanding his resignation over alleged illegal wiretapping and abuse of power.
The Kumanovo incident on May 9 and 10 prompted Bulgaria to convene its national security council, which issued assurances that Bulgaria was ready to cope with any eventuality arising from the situation in Macedonia.
Government and defence authorities have said that the military could be deployed to the Macedonian border to assist Border Police if required.
But Kazakov told bTV that this year, the main flow of refugees would be from across the Turkish border.
He said that in the first four months of 2015, the number of people seeking protection in Bulgaria was more than double that in the same four months of 2014, a total of 4500 compared with 2200.
Kazakov said that it was possible that refugee pressure on Bulgaria could decrease if the European Commission’s proposed system of distributing refugees among EU member states on the basis of a quota system started operating.
* The quota system to which Kazakov referred has an uncertain future. Since being proposed by the European Commission, it has been opposed by France, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain and Slovakia. Under EU opt-out rules, the UK, Ireland and Denmark may decline to participate.
(Photo: European Parliament)