Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov carried out an aerial inspection of progress on the extension to the Bulgarian -Turkish border fence on May 22 2016.
Accompanying Borissov on the helicopter flight were Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and Valeri Simeonov, co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the coalition government but an increasingly influential one now that another minority party has withdrawn its support for Borissov’s government.
In a post on Facebook, Borissov said that the fence would “greatly help the work of border authorities”.
The new Turkish – Bulgarian border fence was initiated by the now-departed Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms ruling axis of 2013/14, at a time that there was a significant increase in refugees coming into Bulgaria as a result of the crisis in Syria.
That first fence was much criticised for its huge price and alleged irregularities in the awarding of the business to supply material for it. An investigation at the time resulted in some senior military officers being penalised.
The fence also was criticised as ineffective because people went round it, human rights groups took issue with it, and it later emerged that not longer after it was completed, repair work was needed.
Borissov, back in government since November 2014, initiated a large-scale extension to the fence. Now in opposition, the BSP has been among those criticising the large cost of the current project.
Earlier in May, the Bulgarian government allotted a further six million leva (about three million euro) to extend the Bulgarian – Turkish border fence in the Bourgas province. The cost of the fence has already exceeded 100 million leva.
The Turkish border is the main crossing point for illegal migration into Bulgaria. Bulgaria is not, however, on the main route for migration into Europe.
Borissov also noted that UK prime minister David Cameron had fulfilled his December 2015 promise to send 40 new 4×4 vehicles for the Bulgarian Border Police. These vehicles had been provided free of charge by the UK, Borissov said.
Borissov, accompanied by the other Cabinet members and Simeonov and the deputy head of mission of the British embassy, Sarah Riley, inspected the 4×4 vehicles at the Malko Turnovo border checkpoint.
“No, we don’t have money, not for 40 jeeps, the moral gesture is important,” Borissov said. It was the first time that such a donation had been made, Borissov said, adding that the vehicles had been transferred from the British armed forces.
(Photos via Borissov’s Facebook page)