Bulgaria Will not Accept Refugees Returned from Europe

Bulgaria will not accept refugees returned from Western Europe unless a re-admission agreement with Turkey, part of the EU-Turkey refugee deal, comes into effect, Bulgaria's PM announced on Sunday.
Borissov meeting Angela Merkel on Saturday in Berlin. Photo: Borissov’s Facebook Profile

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said Bulgaria will not accept migrants returned from Western Europe without a deal with Turkey – adding that he had informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders of Bulgaria’s standpoint at a meeting in Berlin on Saturday.

“Over two million migrants are coming from Aleppo [in Syria], and Turkey is already at the end of its resources. I have firmly told European colleagues that we will not accept [back any] migrants if there is no readmission agreement with Turkey,” Borissov said.

“I told them directly – do you imagine me waiting at the airport for you to send me tens of thousands of refugees? I will simply not let the planes in,” he added.

Borissov met the German Chancellor and the Prime Ministers of Austria, Croatia and Slovenia in Berlin to discuss the European refugee crisis.

A day earlier, Borissov in Istanbul met the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, and the President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Yildirim used the talks to send a message to Europe via Borissov, warning that unless the EU guarantees visa-free travel for Turkish citizens by the end of October, Ankara may back out of its agreement to help stem the flow of migrants to the European bloc.

“The EU and Turkey have to show great efforts  for the [EU-Turkey migrant] agreement to enter into force until October and to find steps to make it work after that. Because, good or bad, the agreement works,” Borissov noted.

He noted that while Turkey cannot join the EU in the short term, the visa regime should be eased for Turkish public servants and business people.

According to the so-called Dublin regulation, the first EU member state that a migrant enters and registers in is responsible for handling his or her application for asylum.

This means that Western European countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden have the right to return refugees to Bulgaria who registered there having entered from Turkey.

At the meeting with Merkel and his colleagues from Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, Borissov also called for more European solidarity with Bulgaria in terms of protection of the EU’s external border.

He demanded more technical equipment from the EU in the form of helicopters and patrol boat for the needs of the border authorities.