Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has said his country is hoping for €130 million from the EU in order to help strengthen its borders with Turkey. So far, Bulgaria has experienced no pressure at its borders; since 2015 they have been protected by barbed wire fences and frequent patrols.
After Turkey announced that it would no longer be adhering to the 2016 EU-Turkey deal at the end of February, Bulgaria sent extra police patrols to shore up the border with its neighbor Turkey.
At a special meeting of the European Council, held online on March 10, Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov announced his intention to ask the European Commission for € 130 million to help "equip police in the event of a severe migration wave," according to the English-language Bulgarian newspaper, Sofia Globe. In the same newspaper, Borissov said that he would "look at the option of directly ordering equipment from Germany."
The 259-kilometer border with Turkey has been protected with barbed wire and heat-sensing cameras since 2015. So far, the country has not reported any extra migrant arrivals at its borders unlike Greece, which has seen bus-loads of migrants arriving at its border since Turkey announced it would no longer stop migrants headed to Europe.
Nevertheless, at the beginning of March, Bulgaria’s government sent 1,000 extra soldiers to help patrol the zone, part of the EU’s external border.
Bulgaria opposed to new migrant camp in border region
On March 10, according to the news agency AFP, Bulgaria’s defense minister hit out at Greek proposals to build a camp near the Greek-Bulgarian border in order to shelter some of the recent arrivals.
Karsimir Karakachanov posted on Facebook on Monday, March 9 "The accommodation by the Greek side of illegal migrants near our border is a pre-requisite for building up of additional tensions. This is not good-neighborly and is unreasonable!"
However, despite this outburst, according to a Greek news website, the two countries are also still cooperating along the border region. The website Greek Reporter.com wrote on Tuesday that Greece had asked Bulgaria to open up a dam located on the Evros river, which runs along the border region between Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, in order to "cause intentional flooding and make it more difficult for migrants amassed at the Greek-Turkish border to cross the river."
On March 2, according to the website Euractiv, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan and won some assurances from Turkey that Ankara "would honor its commitment not to allow migration pressure on Bulgaria." Euroactiv said the situation "remained calm" at the Bulgarian-Turkish border.Borissov posted photos of the meeting on Twitter.
Commitment continues between Bulgaria and Turkey
Borissov had been planning to organize a meeting between the Greek and Turkish leaders, alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of Croatia, whose country is currently holding the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe. However, after Turkey claimed that Greece had killed two migrants at its border and Athens dismissed the claims as "fake news" the meeting failed to materialize.
Following the meeting between Turkey and Bulgaria though, Erdogan stated that "the Bulgarian position should set an example for all EU countries." According to Euractiv, Erdogan expressed his "satisfaction with the sound mindset of Bulgaria under the leadership of Boyko Borissov." According to Euractiv, Borissov has "acted as Erdogan’s advocate in the EU for many years."
Borissov thanked Erodgan for continuing to respect the agreement "to curb illegal migration on the Bulgarian-Turkish border."
At the end of February, the governments of Bulgaria and Greece also renewed their commitment to cooperation. Borissov tweeted that this helped "guarantee the stability of their two countries and the whole region."