Bulgaria’s government hits out at fake news about ‘refugee crisis’ to follow Schengen admission

Bulgaria’s government hit out in a January 7 statement against disinformation that the deal that will bring it Schengen visa zone entry will result in it receiving many thousands of refugees and that it will build new refugee centres.

Since the December 30 approval of the deal that will see Bulgaria’s air and sea borders admitted to Schengen at the end of March 2024, with the date of the inclusion of Bulgaria’s land borders yet to be negotiated, minority opposition parties have repeatedly claimed that the result will be a huge influx of refugees and that new refugee centres will be built.

“Bulgaria is not facing a crisis for the accommodation of refugees from third countries. No new refugee centres are being built,” the Cabinet said on its Facebook page.

“A well-known trick of disinformation propaganda is to throw out data and numbers that have nothing to do with the specific topic of conversation, but are impressive enough to confuse people and instill fear in them,” the government said.

“Bulgaria’s success with full Schengen membership by air and water has disappointed many outside of power who work for foreign interests and do not want Bulgarians to live freely, with a high standard, like Europeans. And they stubbornly continue to spread fake news about the refugees who Austria can return us under the Dublin Regulation,” it said.

The government dismissed as fake news a statement that “about 5000, or 6000, or 10 000, or 15 000, or even 20 000 refugees from Austria will invade the new camps that Bulgaria will build”.

The government said that Bulgaria has been receiving inquiries under the Dublin Regulation not only from Austria, but also from all EU member states since 2007, when Bulgaria became a member of the European Union.

“It is our country’s duty to respond to inquiries within the relevant time frame. The answer may be that Bulgaria assumes or does not assume such responsibility,” the government said.

“From all the inquiries that are received every year, the persons for whom our country has given a negative answer for admission, as well as those for whom the transfer deadlines have expired, are excluded.

“In addition, foreigners have the right to appeal their decision to transfer to Bulgaria – and in many cases the appeal is successful,” it said.

Often, refugees in Austria, for whom a return procedure to Bulgaria is in progress, migrate to other countries while that procedure is underway, the government said.

Any pre-announced data in tables (for example, on inquiries, correspondence and procedures) before the transfers actually took place have no relation to the actual number of refugees being readmitted, it said.

It said that in 2023, there were 193 reported incoming transfers from Austria to Bulgaria, and 113 of them were actually carried out.

“Any other statements are nothing more than malicious propaganda, an expression of political ambitions, against the Bulgarian national interest,” the government said.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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