Bulgaria is to deploy a further 300 military personnel to its borders to control the flow of refugees, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on April 11, saying that the country had 1000km of borders “and we cannot put up fences everywhere”.
Borissov was speaking to reporters while attending the start of a multinational tactical exercise at the Novo Selo training ground entitled Strike Back 2016.
The exercise includes the involvement of more than 450 military personnel from Bulgaria’s armed forces and the use of Bulgarian and American weapons. The training is directed at the certification of a motorised infantry group on completion of the exercise, which continues until April 21.
Borissov said that so far, close to 100 million leva (about 50 million euro) had been provided for fences, equipments and the military deployment related to border security.
He said that the additional military personnel would be deployed so as to cover as large an area as possible of Bulgaria’s border areas.
According to Borissov, daily about 90 to 100 people were detained attempting to cross the border into Serbia illegally, or within the country.
He said that there was daily communication at the highest political and official levels between Bulgaria and its neighbouring countries about the migration problem.
Bulgarian Border Police chief Antonio Angelov, speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on April 11, said that more than 10 000 migrants had been prevented from entering Bulgaria illegally in the first quarter of 2016.
He said that these were people who had not come into Bulgarian territory because they had seen border patrols.
In the first three months of 2016, the number of people detained during attempts to enter Bulgaria illegally added up to 1336, Angelov said. This was lower than the number of people detained in the first three months of 2015, he said.
Angelov said that there was no indication that migrants from the Idomeni camp had attempted to enter Bulgaria following recent events on the Republic of Macedonia border.
“The Greek colleagues managed not to allow the flow to be directed to the Bulgarian borders. However, we observe carefully what is happening on the neighbouring territory of the Republic of Greece,” Angelov said.
He said that in the opening months of 2016, there was no indication of refugees attempting to reach Bulgaria by sea.
(Main photo: Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev tries his hand at an automatic rifle – one that, probably fortunately, is not loaded, considering that Donchev has his finger on the trigger – while Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Borissov’s bodyguard, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and senior military officers look on.)