Bulgaria reinforces border to tackle migrant problem

Bulgaria reinforces border to tackle migrant problem

Bulgaria on Friday deployed extra police and troops on its border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in a joint exercise aimed at tackling a migrant influx, the defense ministry announced.

The two countries say they are preparing for every scenario as thousands of migrants remain blocked at Idomeni, on the Greek-FYROM border.

“We are seeking better coordination to tackle the migration crisis,” said Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev, who watched the exercises, involving troops and police, with his FYROM counterpart.

It was the second such exercise, which aims at dissuading migrants and traffickers from attempting to enter Bulgaria from the southwest.

On March 5 Bulgaria deployed more than two hundred personnel to its southern border with Greece.

Bulgaria fears a large influx of migrants following the closure of the “Balkans route” from Greece through FYROM and Serbia.

An EU member which is not in the passport-free Schengen zone, Bulgaria has so far been largely spared the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II.

However, the country has recently seen increased pressure along its 275-kilometre (170-mile) border with Turkey, which allows the migrants to avoid the dangerous sea crossing to the Greek islands.

Sofia has erected a 95-km razor wire fence on its border with Turkey.

European leaders on Friday reached agreement with Turkey on a deal to curb the huge flow of asylum seekers to Europe, with all migrants arriving in Greece from Sunday to be sent back.

Friday's deal makes Turkey Europe’s bulwark against its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

Last year some 30,000 migrants arrived in Bulgaria via Turkey with at least the same amount crossing the country clandestinely, according to estimates.


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