The European Union is aware of the serious problem faced by Bulgaria with the influx of refugees and supports the extraordinary measures undertaken by the government. The EU is looking for to help us, stated Vice Premier and Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev before the parliamentary Internal Security and Public Order committee. The lawmakers have heard the reports on the subject delivered by Vice Premier Yovchev, Interior Deputy Minister Vasil Marinov, Interior Chief Secretary, Svetlozar Lazarov and the leaders of the Migration Directorate in the State Agency for Refugees.
Minister Yovchev has acquainted the members of parliament with the topics discussed at the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg and noted that the EU Commissioner on Internal Affairs, Mrs. Cecilia Maelstrom, has confirmed our country would receive financial aid to cope with the refugee problem.
Tsvetlin Yovchev has noticed that considerable part of the money remaining in the two funds –for defense of the EU external borders and for assistance to asylum seekers will be made available to Bulgaria, something proving our partners awareness of how serious the problem is. The Council meeting in Luxembourg has praised the very successful work of Bulgaria in the defense and the oversight of EU borders. It was recognized that the most serious pressure experienced by the EU currently is on the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Minister Yovchev underscored that border authorities succeed at almost 100 % to detain persons aiming at entering the country illegally. Since the beginning of the year 7000 people were detained at the border with Turkey and over 1300 at the western border of Bulgaria. He confirmed that all of them are registered with the Refugee Agency of Bulgaria.
The minister reported that at present there are 1300 persons involved in the defense of the Bulgarian-Turkish border and additional staff was also dispatched. Bulgaria has received additional assistance on the part of the European Agency for External Borders Protection (FRONTEX) in the form of 27 employees and 7 cars. As far as the proposals to close the frontier, Yovchev explained the Ministry disposes with personnel and technical means to prevent any illegal crossing but the latter would contradict the European policies and the Convention to which Bulgaria is party. He said the only institution able to make such decision is the parliament. He said further the ministry had considered building eventually infrastructure to obstruct illegal border passing in areas where the video control is inefficient due to the relief.
Tsvetlin Yovchev noted that since the beginning of the crisis the capacity of the refugee centers had been surpassed. 1200 new places were made available, all filled in currently. In the process of preparation are another 1500 places for refugees that will be ready in a month from now. The ministry is considering other sites as well.
The expectations for the refugee number until the end of the year is to reach over 11 000, said the minister.
Yovchev has commented the problem with the refugees is serious for the entire Europe and there is not clear solution on its part so far. Many European countries have stated the situation has reached the point where the process could not be handled in a sustainable way. He noted the debate in Europe is heading towards drawing a single policy for asylum seekers in the EU that will allow the transfer and relocation of refugees on territories of other EU countries. There are countries willing to accept refugees but at a minimal number of 100 – 400 persons. Minister Yovchev expressed hope that such approach could help Bulgaria to solve partly the problem.