BBC: Bulgaria Stems Migrant Flow Through Border with TurkeyViews on BG | June 3, 2016, Friday // 11:17| views
In an article for the BBC published on Friday, Nick Thorpe describes the measures Bulgaria has taken to tighten its border control with Turkey in order to prevent the emergence of an alternative migrant route through the country after the closure of the Western Balkan one.
According to Thorpe, a bilateral deal between Bulgaria and Turkey, which is result of the migrant agreement between the EU and Turkey reached in March, has had a “knock-on effect” on anyone who has managed to cross from Turkey to Bulgaria.
The author notes that the construction of a fence along the 260-kilometre-long Bulgarian-Turkish border has almost been completed and currently measures 146 kilometres in length.
Any migrant managing to overcome the fence will be sent to a refugee camp in Pastrogor.
If Bulgarian authorities can provide convincing evidence that the migrants came from Turkey, they can be returned withing five days. If migrants appeal their extradition and their asylum request is rejected, the period for their return is extended to twelve days.
Bulgarian Deputy Interior Minister Filip Gunev is quoted as saying that if Bulgaria manages to sustain the swift return of migrants to Turkey, this will discourage them from paying smugglers.
However Gounev adds that the implementation of the agreement depends on the goodwill of Turkey.
According to official figures, 80 % of migrants entering Bulgaria are from Afghanistan, another 10 % are from Iraq, while Syrians are almost absent from the statistics, which is a sign that Turkey is keeping to its promise.
The article also notes that there is little sign of migrants in northwestern Bulgaria. Bulgarian authorities say that “only 50” migrants are smuggled through the country on a daily basis, while Serbian officials claim that the number is closer to 200 a day.
What is more important for western Europe is that these numbers are manageable, which shows that the controversial agreement between the EU and Turkey is working for now.
More than a hundred EU police officers, mainly from Austria and Hungary, are being drafted in to reinforce their Bulgarian colleagues guarding the border with Serbia.
It is hoped that a new migrant route through the Danube bridge connecting the Bulgarian city of Vidin and the Romanian town of Calafat will not emerge.
Read the full article here.