Bulgaria fears a tide of refugees

Rezovo is the most southeasterly city in Bulgaria. It is only a few hundred meters across the Black Sea estuary of the Rezovo river to the nearest Turkish village. The citizens of Rezovo now fear that they will soon have to deal with refugees arriving from Turkey by boat. In the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey they are worried that the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey is in danger of collapsing and that Ankara could simply allow refugees to pass across the 240 kilometer long Bulgarian border.

Meanwhile, a 30 kilometer long, 3.5 meter high fence has been erected along the Bulgarian side of the Rezovo. Now the fence is to be extended along the entire length of Bulgaria’s border with Turkey.

Officials want to secure the country’s 484 kilometer southern border to Greece with a fence as well. This is because the Bulgarians have witnessed an increase in the numbers of refugees attempting to cross their border to get to the EU as a result of Macedonia having closed its border with Greece.

Sofia is keen to maintain good relations with Ankara, not least because of the large number of Turks living in Bulgaria. This not only means keeping communications channels open, but rather “doing everything we can to ensure (Ankara) upholds its end of the agreement and that we are not swallowed up by a wave of refugees,” said Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

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(Bulgarian Turkish border area near Matochina photo by Clive Leviev-Sawyer)