Bulgaria could cope with a quota of 1200 refugees, and in this way the country would show solidarity and understanding of the issue, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on September 18.
Borissov was speaking a few days before the special European Council meeting on the refugee issue, to be held on September 23, as announced by European Council President Donald Tusk on September 17.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the governor of the Turkish region of Edirne and the authorities in the neighbouring country that were making huge efforts to contain the refugee flow.
Bulgarian institutions were continuously monitoring the process, Borissov said.
Borissov’s position was that the forthcoming special meeting of the European Council should take a definite decision on policy on the migration processes.
“I hope that there will be a decision on the source of the problem, which is Syria,” Borissov said, expressing hope that major European countries would reach an understanding on how to deal with the situation.
Borissov said that the army had not yet been sent to the border with Turkey, because for the moment there was no need. If it became necessary, the reaction would be very fast, he said.
The same day, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev told Parliament that currently there were 130 military personnel on duty at Bulgaria’s borders.
The state of readiness was such that “if necessary, within minutes” they could be doubled to 260.
“In principle, we are ready for the total count to be increased to 1000 people, but they are rotating so that a maximum of 300 people are simultaneously at the border,” Nenchev said.
He said that to date, there was no strengthening of the refugee flow.
Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov held talks with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with topics discussed including the situation in the two neighbouring countries and the measures each was taking in connection with the refugee flow, Tsatsarov’s office said on September 18. The talks were attended by Tsatsarov’s Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Akardji.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Health Ministry has denied allegations by virologists that Bulgaria is at serious risk because many refugee children were, it was claimed, not vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health’s head of disease prevention, Dr Radosveta Filipova, told Bulgarian National Radio on September 18 that the children of refugees who entered Bulgaria were vaccinated and this process had been going on continuously since the beginning of the refugee wave.
“The order was to immunise all children under 15 years who have entered the territory of the country since October 2013,” she said.
Children are immunized against a lot of diseases that are dangerous and can be prevented with vaccines.
Filipova said that a lot had changed in the profile of those entering the country since the first significant increase in 2013.
“Then almost 20 per cent of those coming in were children and they all said they were from Syria. Even if they had the documents they hid these documents. The difficulty was to convince them that if they had immunisation documents, they should show them to be allowed to proceed.”
She said that Turkey had established a very strict organisation and everyone was vaccinated.
Currently, the proportion of children had decreased and it was mostly young men coming in, “whose vaccination status is unknown and they are not from Syria. I cannot say that the risk decreases. They also hide their immunisation status, if they have one, “she said.
There was no danger of epidemics among the refugees, Filipova said.