Bulgaria Seeks Protection of Borders with Turkey in EU Deal on Migration with Ankara
Bulgaria has called again on the EU to recognize the need for protection of the country’s land and maritime borders with Turkey from a possible shifting of migration inflow following the closure of the Western Balkans route.
The decision of EU Member States to delay Bulgaria’s entry into the bloc’s free-travel Schengen zone puts the country at a disadvantage because not all EU external borders are Schengen borders, Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva has told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday, according to a news release of the government press office.
Kuneva was in Brussels for a meeting of the General Affairs Council, which is preparing the EU summit on migration scheduled for March 17-18.
At the summit, EU leaders will aim to finalise a deal with Ankara that will try to curb the flow of migrants into Europe. The proposed deal requires Turkey to take back migrants who reach the EU illegally in exchange for assistance of EUR 6 B plus promises to lift visa restrictions on Turks travelling to Europe and speed up talks on Turkey’s membership in the bloc.
Kuneva reiterated Bulgaria’s position on the need to treat all external borders of the European Union on an equal footing in the final deal. The position has already been outlined in a letter from Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and at a meeting of Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
"We expect that Turkey’s land borders with EU Member States Bulgaria and Greece, as well as all maritime borders between Turkey and the EU, including the maritime border between Bulgaria and Turkey in the Black Sea, will be urgently included in the negotiations and the agreement with Turkey for tackling the migration issue,” Kuneva has said.
“We expect that Turkey’s land borders with Bulgaria and Greece, and all maritime borders between Turkey and the EU will be explicitly mentioned in the document, which will be negotiated with the Turkish side,” Kuneva added, according to the press release.
The Western Balkan route from Greece via Macedonia and Serbia was practically closed to migrants and refugees last week after Slovenia and Croatia announced that only people who have valid visas and passports will be allowed to enter their territory. Serbia immediately followed suit by introducing reciprocal measures on its borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia.
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