NY Times: Bulgaria Puts Up a New Wall, but This One Keeps People Out
Bulgaria is bracing for a new refugee influx as the weather gets milder in the spring, the New York Times says in a recent article summarizing Bulgaria's effort to curb the flow through border security measures.
More than 25 years ago Bulgaria "was more concerned with stanching the outbound flow of its own citizens to freedom," whereas now it is carrying out a plan "that would sound familiar to anyone along the United States Mexico frontier: more border officers, new surveillance equipment and the first 20-mile section of its border fence," the New York Times explains.
The article describes this as "one very visible manifestation" of the economic, social and political impact of the surge in immigration.
"The rise of the right-wing in Europe is a reaction to this refugee flow," Boris Cheshirkov, Bulgaria's spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is quoted as saying.
An expert on Turkey and the Middle East, on the other hand, says there are probably "thousands of Syrian refugees waiting for an occasion to cross" on the borders of Greece in Bulgaria.
At the same time NY Times quotes comments of Bulgarian security expert Slavcho Velkov, who believes jihadist movement through Bulgaria is currently happening more intensely than authorities admit.
The article argues that "to some degree, efforts like the new Bulgarian fence simply contribute to a game of Whac-a-Mole: When one route is cut off, smugglers shift to other paths into Europe."
It recalls that tighter border security measures in Greece lead to an increase of the refugee influx into Bulgaria, triggering Sofia to launch a "containment plan" and to erect a border fence that helped it mitigate the impact.
However, refugees then use other routes to enter Europe, NY Times writes.
Reporting from Southeastern Bulgaria, where the first section of the planned border fence was completed in September, the prominent paper points out that the Bulgarian government is "drawing on money from the European Union and other sources, and eager to prove it can effectively control its southern flank" and also to "demonstrate to European leaders that the country deserves to be admitted into the Schengen group" of nations whose members travels between them without visas or passports.
It gives voice to experts' doubt that Bulgaria will be able to complete the entire fence by the summer, as the cabinet argues, with construction yet to begin.
The New York Times' article is available here.
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