In the lead up to the European Parliament Elections, the German politician Manfred Weber has promised Bulgarians tight measures against illegal migration. Bulgaria was a critical part of the Balkan route at the height of the migrant crisis.
Manfred Weber, a top German conservative candidate in the upcoming European elections, made his case for tougher rules against illegal immigration in Bulgaria over the weekend.
Weber told the 14,000-strong rally in Sofia that "the state must win over the human traffickers in the fight against illegal immigration," according to the Associated Press.
Weber is a member of the center-right European People's Party, and is also in the running to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president. He made the trip to Sofia as part of his campaign to offer his support to Bulgaria's ruling center-right GERB party in the impending elections.
Bulgaria has placed a high priority on making illegal migration more difficult in the wake of the migrant crisis. The Balkan nation erected a barbed-wire fence along its border with Turkey to prevent migrants from entering.
Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and will elect 17 members to the European Parliament on Sunday. Recent polls indicate that three parties will break the 5.8 percent threshold in the elections: the GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) party, Socialist party, and the Liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The GERB party has won almost every national and European election after it was founded in 2006.
Bulgaria was one of the countries along the Balkan route during the height of the migrant crisis in 2015. The Balkan route was virtually shut down in 2016. While Weber told the crowd he was happy with the diversity of Europe, he said there is one thing in common: "it is based on Christianity and we are proud of this."