Bulgarian President Identifies Refugees as Posing Greatest Threat to National Security
President Rosen Plevneliev identified the ongoing refugee wave as posing the greatest threat to Bulgarian security.
Plevneliev noted this in a statement after the meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security, which was held on Tuesday.
The Bulgarian Head of State expressed his gratitude to the members of the parliamentary represented parties for demonstrating national responsibility.
He assessed the latest meeting of the council as being successful, with the parties managing to reach consensus with the exception of nationalist Ataka, which had expressed reservations.
Plevneliev was assured that a clear signal of unity and support has been sent to security sector institutions.
The council discussed the changes to the geostrategic security environment and the arising risks and threats as well as the capabilities of the state institutions to provide effective counteraction.
In the past years, there have been fundamental changes to the geostrategic security environment in Europe and the world, with the system of international relations facing new challenges.
In his words, threats from asymmetric transnational character have increased, with expansion of terrorism based on religious and ethnic extremism, which has been the result of the failure of states in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere.
Plevneliev identified the foreign terrorist fighters as having a negative long-term effect on the security environment.
According to him, the mass refugee and migrant flows caused by armed conflicts and the disproportion in the social-economic development are threatening to turn into humanitarian crises.
He added that the refugee influx and illegal migration have become a main risk factor for the EU and its member states.
The problems with migration, human trafficking and terrorism will continue to be pose serious threats to Bulgaria's national security.
Plevneliev noted that the failed states and the record number of conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa as well as the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq have led to an unprecedented migratory pressure exerted on Europe.
Bulgaria has been also affected by these flows as the country is an external border of the EU.
These development have put to the test some of the main common policies of the EU, such as the Dublin system and the Schengen agreement.
The large number of migrants has strained the social security systems and the security services, which has necessitated the allocation of considerable amount of additional financial resources.
According to him, the Interior Ministry has developed and is applying the necessary plans and complex measures on guarding the country's border from illegal migrants.
Plevneliev pointed that it was important to accelerate the implementation of these measures as well as to prioritise the steps on countering human trafficking.
The Head of State identified the continuation and the growth of the migrant flows to and through the country as representing the most immediate risk to Bulgaria's security.
The threat of terrorist attacks in Europe is growing as a result of the increase in the radicalisation of particular groups within the society, especially in Western European countries.
The members of the council also noted the increasing trend for global political opposition between the EU and NATO on the one hand and Russia on the other.
Other threats were the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as well as the continuation of the so-called frozen conflicts close to Bulgarian borders.
Plevneliev noted the lack of effective measures on ensuring the country's energy security, with Bulgaria remaining largely dependent on one dominant supplier of natural gas.
The president concluded that there was need to invest in security and defence, with the council issuing some of the following recommendations.
It called on the government to propose measures aimed at optimising the functioning of the security sector structures and improving their capabilities to deal with the altered security environment.
The participants in the meeting recommended to the Security Council at the Council of Ministers to adopt an action plan on dealing with a potential mass refugee and migratory wave.
They also called on the government to develop and table to parliament a bill on counteracting terrorism.
The council also advised Bulgarian institutions and politicians to work actively on forming a common European stance on dealing with the refugee wave and finging a lasting solution to the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
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