Migrant quotas: Bulgaria wants ‘balance’, mainly families, mainly from Syria

Bulgaria has told the European Commission that in the system for reallocating refugees, the country would prefer to have a “balance” and to receive mainly families, and mainly from Syria.

This was said on September 17 by Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, who again made a public call against “hysteria” about the refugee situation.

Buchvarova said that migrants who entered Bulgaria were taken to registration centres for their identities to be checked: “There are those who have been issued orders to return. Others do not receive refugee status. There are those who are not allowed on our territory “.

She said that after two years, Turkey had to approve a readmission agreement and Bulgaria could then return refugees have crossed the Turkish border.

So far, those who had entered Bulgarian territory had been registered in the country and should stay in it. And according to the Dublin agreement, if a migrant who goes to another country has to be returned to the country where first registered.

Buchvarova, referring to the discussions at EU level earlier in 2015, said that there was a solution for the distribution of 40 000 refugees, of whom 500 would come to Bulgaria. She said that a decision had yet to be taken on the allocation of a further 120 000 refugees.

She said that Bulgaria had informed the EC about its preferences regarding which refugees to accommodate, saying that each country had the right to state its preferences.

Speaking at a briefing on September 17, Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov said that refugee centres in Bulgaria have the needed capacity and organisation to handle the refugees that will come to the country under the legal procedure. We will have as many refugee centres as needed”.

Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov and Border Police chief Antonio Angelov have underlined that claims of a huge refugee wave headed to Bulgaria’s borders are not true.

In a television interview, Mitov said that while there were between 1500 and 2000 people close to the Turkish town of Edirne, the Turkish authorities were working on discouraging them from going towards the borders of European Union countries and were making an effort to return them to refugee camps.

He expressed appreciation for Turkey helping Bulgaria in every way regarding the migrant flows.

Mitov said that he thought that so far it had been proven sufficiently clearly that Bulgaria’s border was secure enough. He was responding to speculation that the paths of migrants are changing and would now go through Bulgaria.

There had been some attempts at boats carrying migrants docking along the southern Black Sea, but this had not been on a large scale, Mitov said.

“We need to create an international coalition to deal specifically with the resolution of the problem in Syria,” Mitov said.

He said that the other most important steps to resolve the refugee problem are building refugee centres outside EU borders and combating terrorist groups responsible for the refugee crisis.

“Refugee status gives no right to remain in the EU forever – these people will be returned as soon as the situation in their countries is fixed,” Mitov said.

Antonio Angelov, head of the Border Police chief directorate, said that the Border Police were making every effort to protect not only the Bulgarian but also the external border of the EU.

Angelov said that there was no severe migratory pressure at Bulgaria’s borders, and called on the country’s citizens to remain calm.

“No increase has been observed in people crossing our borders illegally. The situation at all our borders is relatively quiet for the season, we are not seeing large groups crossing into our territory,” Angelov said.

He went on to say that there was some increased pressure, but this was characteristic of all borders in the EU at the moment.

Efforts by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry and the whole government were producing results, he said.

“We maintain constant contact with our colleagues from neighbouring countries. We have mixed committees and joint patrols with Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Romania, by which information is transmitted instantly,” Angelov said.

(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)



The Sofia Globe staff

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