Austria Ready to Help Prevent Opening of New Migrant Route, Bulgaria Says
Austria is ready to support Bulgaria’sefforts to improve border security in view of potential increase in migration pressure, including by secondment of police officers, a senior Austrian official has said.
The assurance of support has come from Austria's Director General for Public Security, Konrad Kogler, at a meeting with the Chief Secretary of Bulgaria’s Ministry of the Interior, Georgi Kostov, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
At a meeting in Vienna, Kostov and Kogler discussed measures taken by both countries to address the adverse effects of the migration inflow into Europe.
"We are facing new challenges related to migration pressures and counter-terrorism. The only answer is partnership, cooperation and joint efforts of all countries,” Kostov said at the meeting, according to the statement.
Kostov and Kogler agreed on the need to exercise strict control of the European borders and address the causes of illegal migration to prevent the shifting of migrant flow to Bulgaria after the closure of the so-called Western Balkan route.
A meeting of police chiefs of countries lying on the Balkan migration route next week in Sofia is expected to give a boost to measures for stepping up cross-border cooperation in controlling migrant inflow into Europe, according to the statement.
Kostov’s one-day visit to Vienna comes after Austria’s Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner warned last week that a new migrant route might open through Bulgaria after the closure of the Western Balkans route for migrants.In an interview with Austrian public broadcaster ?RF, Mikl-Leitner called forthe closure of what she called the "Eastern Balkan migrant route".
The Western Balkans route had been the most widely used by migrants from the Middle East trying to reach Austria and Germany from Turkey via Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. The route was practically closed following an agreement between the EU and Turkey reached earlier this month. The deal left thousands of migrants stuck at Greece’s border with Macedonia, raising concerns that migrants might try to continue their journey to Western Europe using Bulgaria as a transit point.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov warned on Friday that he expected the main migration threat to come from the country’s border with Greece. Bulgaria had built a wire fence at sections of its border with Turkey but has no fence at the border with Greece.
Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev reaffirmed on Thursday Bulgaria’s readiness to erect a light wire fence along its border with Greece in preparation for a possible increase in migration pressure.
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