EU Commissioner: Bulgaria Should Brace for Libyan Exodus

Diplomacy | February 24, 2011, Thursday // 08:55|  views

Kristalina Georgieva, EU's humanitarian aid chief, said Brussels' attitude towards Libyan strongman ruler Gaddafi is getting tougher in the wake of the latest terrible news coming from the country. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria may be hit by a wave of refugees trying to reach the country because of the turmoil in Libya, Bulgaria's EU Commissioner has warned.

"Bulgaria, being a border country in the European Union, risks to be flooded by a wave of illegal migrants from Libya, who may first go to Turkey and from there into Bulgaria," Kristalina Georgieva, EU's humanitarian aid chief, said in an interview for the state-owned Bulgarian National Radio on Thursday.

"This is a totally realistic scenario, this can happen. We should work closely with the Turkish government and know what our response can be in case of such a scenario. Bulgaria's entry into Schengen is not just an honor, it is also huge responsibility. Are we ready for it?", Georgieva said, referring to the country's bid to join the border-less zone in March.

Asked about the European Commission reaction to the bloody events unfolding in Libya, Georgieva said its position is getting tougher in the wake of the latest news.

"We are absolutely firm that what is happening in Libya is totally unacceptable. There is no point in negotiating with a man like Gaddafi, when innocent people are shot to death," she said.

She explained that the European Commission position has firmed its stand as the events in Libya span out of control over the last few hours.

"The situation now calls for a very firm position on behalf of the international community, so that we can show a unified front and help the people, who are at the moment in the hands of their irresponsible leader," Georgieva said.

Bulgarian experts have already called on the Sofia-based government and the European institutions to brace for a large influx of migrants due to turmoil in the Middle East and Africa, warning the continent's policies on immigration and the world's fledgling anti-smuggling efforts will be put to the test.

Some 2.5 million people, immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, may flee to Italy if strongman Muammar Gaddafi's government falls, Italy's Foregn Minister Franco Frattini admitted in an interview for Corriere della Sera, published on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the European Union sent a team of border experts to Italy to help process the flooding of illegal migrants from Tunisia. According to Italian authorities, more than 5000 people have landed on Lampedusa from Tunisia in the aftermath of pro-democracy protests that toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mass protests in Tunisia caused the country's long-time dictator to flee in January, and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was forced out earlier this month after weeks of demonstrations.

The worst-case scenario that many feared in Egypt and Tunisia, however unfolded in Libya. The strongman ruler Col Gaddafi may have lost the support of almost every section of the society, but is intent on keeping power at whatever the cost in the blood of protesters. His son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi warned of rivers of blood and hundreds of thousands dead.

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Tags: Bulgarian, European Commission, Libya, Gaddafi, Tripoli, Libya, Clinton, Hillary, Michelle, Gabrielle Giffords, Americans, American, America, US, Obama, president, State of the Union, speech, Barack, Secretary of State, Bulgaria, Kristalina, Georgieva, EU Commissioner, Schengen, turkey, Italy, Egypt, Tunisia, Middle East, Africa, sub-Saharan


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