Bulgarian PM: Migrants Have Not Breached Border with Greece
Bulgarian Prime Miniser Boyko Borisov assured on Sunday that the border with Greece has not been breached by migrants, as had been implied by some media, adding that the country managed to carry out one of the quickest readmission of refugees ever achieved in Europe.
His statement comes after two groups of illegal migrants, each of them consisting of more than thirty people, were detained by Bulgarian border police officers as they attempted to cross the border with Greece on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Borisov convened an extraordinary meeting in Blagoevgrad on Sunday, which was attended by Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova, Antonio Angelov, director of the interior ministry's Border Police General Directorate, the regional governor of Blagoevgrad, the mayors of Petrich, Sandanski and Blagoevgrad and Regional Minister Lilyana Pavlova.
A total of 96 people attempted to cross illegally into Bulgaria, forty people in the first group and 56 in the second.
The first group was detained near the Kulata border checkpoint, the other in a freight train on route from Greece to Bulgaria.
There has been heightened military presence at the Kulata border checkpoint, with servicemen from the land forces deployed to the area to assist border police in guarding the border.
The bigger group of migrants has already been returned to Greece, which according to Borisov constituted the quickest readmission ever achieved in the EU. In his words, no other European state has reacted so quickly in the return of migrants. The other group will be returned to Greece within the space of the next ten days.
The first group was detained immediately upon entering Bulgaria along the bank of Struma river, while the second was detected by special equipment and immediately stopped at the railway station.
Borisov assured that the police and army have been very careful in handling the groups as there are a lot of little children among the migrants, including babies.
Expressing his gratitude to the border police officers and investigators, he pointed to the good coordination between the police and the army, which had been previously demonstrated in several joint trainings.
The Bulgarian prime minister revealed that the migrants had been misled into thinking that they will be transported to Macedonia and were not aware that they were entering Bulgaria.
Each of the migrants had paid EUR 200 to smugglers, whose identity has not yet been established by Bulgarian and Greek authorities, but the two countries are working on identifying them.
Interior Minister Bachvarova also commended the work of the authorities which acted very swiftly and neutralised both groups in less than an hour.
She has already held conversation with her Greek counterpart Nikolaos Toskas who assured her that Athens will assist for the swift readmission of the remaining migrants.
Servicemen will remain in the region until it is deemed necessary.
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