Avramopoulos: Bulgaria's Border Guarding Efforts Are Key to European Stability
European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, recognised the efforts of Bulgaria in guarding the EU's external borders and identified them as key for European stability.
Avromopoulos said this at a press briefing following his meeting with Bulgarian Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova in Sofia on Thursday. During their meeting the two discussed the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.
Avromopoulos identified Bulgaria as standing on a strategic crossroad, with the country bearing huge responsibility for guarding the external borders of the EU.
Therefore, the EU should lend its support to Bulgaria in this challenging task, Darik radio quotes him as saying.
The commissioner described Bulgaria as a pillar which supports the foundations of Europe.
The commissioner pointed that the strengthening of the external borders is of exceptional importance.
In his words, the rights of migrants in Bulgaria are respected.
He noted that at present the refugee flows through Bulgaria are limited, but the migrant routes could change.
Avromopoulos welcomed the readiness of Bulgaria to act in case the migrant pressure increases.
The commissioner noted that the EU has allocated EUR 91 M to Bulgaria under the Home Affairs Fund for the 2014-2020 period.
In his words, the European Commission is supporting the countries of the region as well as Italy and Greece in the establishment of the so-called “hotspots” which goes hand in hand with the fight against organised crime.
Avromopoulos described human smugglers as well-organised crime groups taking advantage of the people's despair.
The commissioner noted that the EU is working in close cooperation with the Bulgarian government, but it was necessary to increase the exchange of intelligence data and investigation of crime networks.
In his opinion, there is need to identify the victims of this type of crime and police should work on uncovering the perpetrators.
Bachvarova said that in order to deal with the migrant influx, there is need to join efforts in seeking common solutions to the refugee crisis as regional decisions could not yield results.
In her words, Bulgaria is having 100 % control on its borders with Turkey and Greece although the latter is internal and a different regime is in operation, which for the moment will not be changed.
Bachvarova noted that Bulgaria is not only controlling the entry of migrants into the country, but also conducting interviews with them.
She pointed that Bulgaria was taking measures in tackling illegal immigration not only by detaining refugees at the border but also in the interior of the country.
At present Bulgaria is not considering to close its border with Greece as it views this policy as not acceptable, the interior minister assured.
In her words, Bulgaria should support Greece as the countries are neighbours and partners.
As regards the blockades staged by protesting Greek farmers at the Bulgarian-Greek border, Avromopoulos identified the situation as “worrying”.
He expressed hope that common sense will prevail, adding that the EU has mechanism to intervene if the need arises.
The commissioner assured that upon his return to Brussels, he will inform his colleague in charge of such issues, but expressed hope that in the meantime a solution will be reached.
The initially planned visit of Avrmopoulos to the town of Elhovo close to the border with Turkey was cancelled due to unforeseen changes in his schedule.
The commissioner said he is planning to pay a visit to Bulgaria again next month.
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