Columns of Bulgarian military vehicles headed along Struma Motorway towards the region near the Kulata border checkpoint ahead of the March 5 start of a joint military-Border Police training exercise in dealing with a major influx of refugees.
The joint exercise was ordered by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov at a regular Cabinet meeting on March 2.
An Interior Ministry statement confirmed that on March 4, initial preparations were underway for the exercise, to be held in the zone of responsibility of the Border Police office in the southern Bulgarian town of Petrich.
The purpose of the exercise is co-ordination among the Interior Ministry, Defence Ministry and Bulgarian Red Cross in dealing with possible increased migration pressure.
Bulgaria’s Parliament recently approved amendments to the Defence and Armed Forces Act making it possible for the military to provide assistance to the Border Police in controlling the country’s frontiers.
Some days ago, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said that his ministry would be able to rapidly deploy 500 military personnel to the border in the event of a crisis.
The military will patrol together with Border Police.
Borissov ordered the exercise against the background of the crisis at the border between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, where several thousand asylum-seekers have been stranded in recent days.