Bulgaria Could Crack Down on Smugglers in Greece 'in a Day' - PM
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Saturday suggested Greece might make use of its northern neighbor's security forces to tackle the migrant crisis by cracking down on smugglers.
Borisov commented on the migrant crisis after a joint drill between police and army officers in Southwestrn Bulgaria, at the border with Greece and not far from the one with Macedonia.
Fifty units of military equipment (including two helicopters, SUVs, and armored vehicles) were used in the drill, along with vehicles used by the fire brigade and ambulances.
"It is not only me who raises the issue to the Greek Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras]," Borisov added, noting that every day Bulgarian border police officers detained "illegal immigrants and their smugglers".
While praising cooperation with Turkish authorities on the migrant crisis, he noted the same cannot be said with regard to Greece, extending an offer to help Athens.
"We cannot leave Greece, our neighbors, our friends, they have been brothers to us for centuries and will remain so."
"If they want it, I can send them our [Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime] and [counter-intelligence and security agency] DANS and in a day smugglers will be dealt with," Borisov suggested.
He explained Sofia would demand a united response to the crisis at the EU-Turkey summit due on Monday, March 07.
Borisov added Sofia would insist again that "the term 'illegal migrant' should be appled in its leagal sence, in other words we cannot tolerate violation of the law. Only at the official border crossing points - and after footprints and medical care are taken, after we have a confirmed destination where they are welcome - will we let migrants in."
"Based on what we have just seen, we can develop our plans further and guarantee to Bulgarian citizens that we stand at full alert during to react even in the worst situation of illegal crossing of the Bulgarian border on behalf of migrants," Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova told reporters.
She added the exercise was aimed at examining deployment of forces "in a real situation" and coordinating effort of border police, riot police, and the Bulgarian Army.
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