Sofia Airport Boasts Electronic Border Control

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | August 28, 2012, Tuesday // 12:21
Sofia Airport Boasts Electronic Border Control: Sofia Airport Boasts Electronic Border Control A new electronic border control system makes impossible to leave Bulgaria via Sofia International Airport with fake ID papers. File photo

The first ever electronic border control counters were launched Tuesday at the Sofia International Airport in the Bulgarian capital.

The equipment is financed by the EU fund External Borders with BGN 476 795, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry announced, stressing in the press release that the implementation of the project is a demonstration of the country's commitment to join the Schengen area.

The electronic counters were officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

The four new counters compare passports and ID documents that contain biometric data and check automatically the database before the door opens for the passenger. In addition to documents with biometric data, the program currently applies only to individuals from the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

The new system makes impossible to leave the country by air with fake ID papers and identifies people who would be of interest for the Schengen authorities. The counters are further equipped with cameras that take pictures of the passengers.

As a demonstration of the new equipment, in Tsvetanov's presence, an impostor attempted to pass through the counter with somebody else's passport and was stopped by the system.

The ceremony comes on the backdrop of early August statements of German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich that his country had growing concerns about the swift admission of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area.

Meanwhile, according to, chaos reigned at the airport over the Minister's visit, with people who had flights scheduled between 9:30 and 10:30 am having to reach Terminal 2 on foot, lugging their suitcases. There have been no exceptions even for the handicap or small children. Witnesses are quoted saying they saw a Russian woman, who had difficulties walking, crying from despair.

At 10:30 am, when Tsvetanov had been already gone, the security measures have remained in place, without airport access for vehicles, taxi cabs and public transportation.

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Tags: electronic, border control, system, Sofia International Airport, ID, documents, passports, biometric data, counters, EU, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Schengen Area, Hans-Peter Friedrich, Bulgaria
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