Commission assesses Bulgarian request to include Bulgaria – Turkey borders to agreement as “legitimate”

EPA / NAKE BATEV

Migrants on the Greek side of the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), at a refugee camp, near the village of Idomeni, northern Greece, 13 March 2016. Greece has 44,035 migrants registered on its territory, according to Ministery of Immigration Policy, trapped due to entry restrictions already imposed by FYROM

Bulgaria opposes the acceleration of visa liberalization process, asking for refugee deal expansion to Bulgarian – Turkish border area.


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“The Bulgarian intention is totally legitimate for Bulgaria to bring forward this request to discuss it,” Margaritis Schinas, Commission Chief Spokesperson said of Bulgaria’s request for the Bulgarian-Russian border to be included in the refugee deal. Schinas spoke on Monday, ahead of Thursday’s EU Summit in Brussels.

The European Commission commented on Bulgaria’s request saying any finalized refugee deal shouldn’t focus on flows of people between Turkey and Greece. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, expressed the opinion that the deal should include the border area between Bulgaria and Turkey, but also other EU maritime borders, such as the Black Sea. Schinas said “we should wait for this discussion to happen” so as to secure the flows and returns of the illegal entrants from Turkey, as a condition from Bulgarian authorities to support the final deal.

“Bulgaria would not be ready to accept a partial Turkish engagement (only for the Greek islands) which will most probably lead to opening up of new migration routes,” Borisov emphasized in his letter to President Tusk. The Bulgarian Prime Minister suggested the speedup of visa liberalization process between Turkey and the EU “should remain directly bound to the implementation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement,” in addition to relative concerns from Cyprus. President Tusk is to travel to Cyprus tomorrow, Tuesday, in order to meet President Nikos Anastasiades before the EU Summit.

Adding to Cypriot concerns, the Prime Minister also warned against plans to speed up visa liberalization processes for Turkish citizens in the EU, saying the process “cannot be calendar driven and should remain directly bound to the implementation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement.”

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