Bulgaria calls on Turkey to halt military operation in Syria

The military operation in Syria must stop because the risk of a humanitarian crisis is very high, and it is only diplomacy that can resolve the conflict, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on October 15 after briefing President Roumen Radev on the outcome of a Cabinet security council meeting on the situation in Syria.

The security council meeting was called amid a worsening crisis in northern Syria following Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish fighters that began last week.

Borissov and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva met Radev immediately after the security council meeting to brief him on the work being done by Bulgaria’s security and intelligence services, the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and Border Police in the light of the Syria situation.

“We are adamant that the military operation must stop,” Borissov said, adding that the risk of a humanitarian crisis is very high.

“And if a humanitarian crisis occurs, that means an increase in the migrant wave – these are related processes. So we insist that the hostilities be stopped and it is only diplomacy that can resolve this conflict,” Borissov said.

The Prime Minister said that there were “zero” migrants at Bulgaria’s border with Turkey and while there was more migration pressure from Greece “we have taken additional measures there and its also calm”.

He said that a training exercise had been conducted involving the Border Police, Interior Ministry, the military and special forces.

“We have more than $5 billion worth of trade with Turkey and they are our neighbours, so we are strongly opposed to the operation continuing because it bears a humanitarian crisis.”

Borissov said that the sanctions against Russia, with which Bulgaria has far less trade than with Turkey, had cost Bulgaria more than half to a billion leva.

“So I hope diplomacy and the combined efforts of everyone work, and we should not forget that Turkey is a member of Nato and it may want to invoke Article 5. That would make things very interesting,” he said.

Article 5 is Nato’s collective defence provision that regards an attack on one member of the alliance as an attack on all.

“I want to maintain the agreement with Turkey and my colleagues, when they speak, to know that we have a maritime and land border.

“If 50 or 100 or 200 000 migrants enter Bulgaria, I do not know at all what will happen with the country, and while Turkey is 100 per cent compliant with the agreement with Bulgaria and it is working perfectly, I owe it to our security to uphold this position,” Borissov said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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