EU Warns Bulgaria Against Turning Down Syrian Refugees

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | November 19, 2013, Tuesday // 16:44
Bulgaria: EU Warns Bulgaria Against Turning Down Syrian Refugees Michele Cercone, spokesperson for home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstr?m. File photo

The European Commission has indirectly warned Greece and Bulgaria to stop turning down Syrian refugees at their borders with Turkey.

Both countries have launched the construction of fences on their borders with Turkey in a move to cope with the ongoing influx of asylum-seekers. Greece has erected a 12.5km wall at a critical section of the Greece-Turkish border near the town of Orestiada, while Bulgaria has announced plan to build a similar, 30-km fence near the town of Elhovo.

But Michele Cercone, spokesperson for home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstr?m, has told EurActiv that pushing back asylum seekers was against EU and international law.

“Push-backs are simply not allowed. They are not in line with EU and EU and international obligations. Member states cannot, shall not and should not carry out any push-back,” he said.

Asked how laws against push-backs were consistent with the fact that several member states had erected walls or fences at their borders, Cercone conceded that EU countries were free to decide their own border protection measures.

“This is of course their choice. But we have always said that walls do not solve problems. What solves problems is a consistent structural management of migratory and asylum seekers’ flows,” Cercone said, as cited by EurActiv.

He explained that this was implying that member states should be able to manage these flows in full respect of fundamental rights and international and European obligations.

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Tags: refugees, asylum-seekers, Bulgaria, greece, turkey, EU, Michele Cercone
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