Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, speaking on June 24 ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on migration and asylum, said that Bulgaria had proved that as a front-line country, it could cope with refugee pressure.
Borissov said that what he described as the good results that Bulgaria had achieved in protecting an EU external border were due both to the good work of Bulgaria’s Border Police and Frontex and to the agreement with Turkey.
He said that both EU countries and Western Balkan countries should be protected.
Borissov reiterated the position of Bulgaria, which he was to put at the summit. These included the immediate closure of EU external borders with crossing permitted only at official border points, relocation of migrants already in the EU territory and the active implementation of agreements with third countries.
He said that as the country currently holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, Bulgaria wanted all member states to agree on the issue of migration.
Bulgaria, as a front-line country, together with Greece, Italy, Spain, could not agree with the position that wanted migrants already in Europe to be returned to the EU countries where they were first registered. This would aggravate the situation in these countries by transferring them to double responsibilities – border protection and refugee care on their territory, Borissov said.
Two days earlier, Borissov spoke on the telephone with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban, to brief him on the Bulgarian position for the June 24 meeting.
Underlining his call for the immediate closure of EU external borders and strict controls of those entering the EU, Borissov said that this would require urgent aid for the front-line countries including equipment, funding and a strengthened presence of Frontex, a government statement said.
Borissov wants refugee reception centres set up outside the EU. At these centres, there would be checks to establish who were genuine refugees. The EU should provide financial and technical support to the countries where these centres were set up.
Those who do not need protection should be returned to their country of origin or the last safe third country they passed through before entering the EU. This would require political efforts to achieve readmission agreements with these countries.
Borissov also wants an analysis of the flows of migrants who have already arrived in Europe.
Orban backed Borissov on the call for border closure, the setting up of migrant centres, and he restated the Visegrad Four’s opposition to the mandatory relocation of migrants, the Bulgarian government statement said.