Bulgaria has not ‘at this stage’ requested increased Nato military presence

Bulgaria has not at this stage requested Nato to increase its military presence on its territory and whatever actions are to be taken on the matter will be discussed after a Cabinet decision, Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska said on March 4.

She was speaking after a meeting of Nato foreign ministers, which also involved the EU’s foreign policy chief and Nato non-members Sweden and Finland.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have in recent days requested a strengthened deployment from their Nato allies following the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia that began on February 24 on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In other news in Bulgaria on March 4 related to Putin’s war on Ukraine:

The Bulgarian state will buy the necessary quantities of grain to meet the needs of the country’s population, it was decided on March 4 at a meeting of the grain advisory council attended by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and the ministers of finance, economy and agriculture.

In this way, farmers will be able to sell their products, and Bulgarian citizens will not have to worry about shortages in the market in our country, according to a Bulgarian government media statement.

The mechanism by which the state should buy the grain is yet to be determined.

Talks on the topic will continue at a working meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture to clarify the details of the actions to be taken.

Bulgaria’s Education Ministry said on March 4 that regional departments of education were accepting applications from refugees from Ukraine who want to enroll their children in kindergarten or school in Bulgaria.

Depending on the age, the class completed so far, the location and the desire of the parents, the children and the refugee students are directed to a specific educational institution.

The aim is to complete this preparatory work as soon as possible so that refugees can participate in the educational system as soon as they receive official legal status in Bulgaria.

Children of parents with dual citizenship can be admitted to a kindergarten or school without going through the procedures for refugees who have only a Ukrainian passport.

A sample application has been published on the website of the Ministry of Education , which parents from Ukraine must fill out and submit to the regional education department. 

They must indicate the mother tongue of the child, whether the child speaks to some extent Bulgarian or other European languages, where and which class the child attended.

Consultations can be obtained on the hotline of the Education Ministry, 0800 16 111.

There are trained experts in each regional education department who have experience in the admission and training of children seeking or receiving international protection, the Education Ministry said.

A mechanism for the reception of refugee children in the Bulgarian educational system has existed since 2015. It was established in connection with refugees from the war in Syria.

The government is to discuss a programme to help Ukrainian citizens seeking protection in Bulgaria as a result of hostilities in Ukraine, a government statement on March 4 said.

At the suggestion of the Minister of Tourism Hristo Prodanov, Ukrainians will be entitled to assistance in the total amount of 40 leva a person a night and one meal for up to three months from the submission of an application for protection.

The aid will be provided in connection with the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, which allows refugees from war to be granted immediate temporary protection in the EU, giving them the right to reside, access the labour market, and access to housing, social assistance, medical or other assistance and means of subsistence.

For people seeking international protection in Bulgaria who have expressed a desire to get a job in the country, the assistance of 40 leva a person a night and one meal will be provided for a period of one month from the date of application. These people can apply under the simplified procedure for access to the EU labour market for up to three years, the government said.

Private and various state-owned accommodation facilities will be eligible for the payment.

The aid will be paid by the Ministry of Tourism on the basis of actually incurred expenses, based on an extract from the register of accommodation places. 

An agreement between the Ministry of Tourism and the State Agency for Refugees is to be concluded regarding the exchange of information on the number of eligible residents, the manner and places of their accommodation.

Where possible, appropriate educational activities, sports activities and other activities in accordance with their age will be arranged for children in the accommodation facilities.

The Education Ministry will provide logistical and financial support for this.

Compulsory pre-school and school education in state and municipal kindergartens and schools is free for children and students for Bulgarian citizens, citizens of another EU countries, and third-country nationals, including those seeking or receiving the right to asylum or international protection.

The proposed programme, in addition to supporting refugees from the war in Ukraine, aims to partially support the tourism business, which will be directly affected, the statement said.

(Photo: A Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon, of the type deployed in Bulgaria to assist in air policing Bulgaria’s air space, before Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine began)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.

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