Bulgaria’s shooting of migrant: President expresses regret, calls for EU-wide measures to resolve crisis

Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev said on October 16 that he deeply regretted the “ludicrous” incident in which a migrant, one of a group of young men that had crossed illegally from Turkey into Bulgaria, was shot dead by Bulgarian Border Police.

Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry has said that according to the policeman who fired the fatal shot, one of three who went to the scene in response to an alarm about an illegal border crossing, he had fired his service pistol into the air after the group of 54 aggressively resisted being taken into custody. However, the warning shot ricocheted, fatally injuring the migrant, the border policeman said.

Plevneliev, in a statement released by his office, said that the tragic incident marked the continuing serious migration crisis in Europe and was another occasion to call for rapid and uniform pan-European measures to resolve at its roots the crisis caused by migratory pressures on Europe.

He expressed confidence in the professionalism of law enforcement officers who 24 hours a day protected the Bulgarian and European border and who are under exceptional pressure in the discharge of their professional duty.

“I welcome the quick reaction of the law enforcement bodies, as well as the initiation of an independent check, to objectively evaluate the actions that were taken. I trust that the relevant authorities in the investigation of the case will do their job as soon as possible and will inform the public about the results,” Plevneliev said.

“I must emphasise that Bulgaria has always manifested a humane and tolerant attitude towards asylum seekers, regardless of their region and country of origin. However, we should not overlook our responsibility to protect our national borders and sovereignty and the borders of a united Europe, in accordance with our commitments as a responsible European nation.”

Plevneliev reiterated that Bulgaria was one of the first countries in Europe that have become the subject of increased migratory pressure and which took emergency measures to adequately protect the external borders of the European Union.

He said that two years later, Bulgaria remained, unfortunately, one of the EU countries that strictly adhered to European regulations on asylum seekers as it continued to register all migrants passing through the country.

Plevneliev said that he used the tragic event to call on the leaders of EU countries to all comply with European rules.

Bulgaria would continue to responsibly fulfill its obligations regarding the protection of national borders and the external borders of the European Union, in close co-operation with partner European institutions and with its neighbouring countries, with which it was on friendly terms, he said.

“I appeal to investigators to be accorded the necessary calm, while again calling on asylum seekers on Bulgarian territory not to carry out acts contrary to the Bulgarian and European legislation and to respect the rules that are binding on all,” Plevneliev said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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