Bulgaria turning into a refugee hotspot?
Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov has complained in an interview that his country has been left to protect the EU's external border on its own. The government fears a rise in refugee numbers should the EU's deal with Turkey collapse. Some commentators share its fears, while others criticise Bulgaria for trying to capitalise on the refugee crisis.
Border protection completely inadequate
Unlike other countries in the region Bulgaria will be completely unprepared if refugees numbers start rising once more, the daily paper Trud warns:
“Serbia has long since realised that Bulgaria doesn't control its borders effectively and has invested in better border protection. The additional patrols are already having an impact: every month just under 2,000 illegal migrants are sent back to Bulgaria. The rest are intercepted in Hungary. Viktor Orbán didn’t even have to travel to Istanbul for that. Hungary's government simply deployed another 3,000 border police officers and boosted its border protection budget. It is building a second border fence and encouraging citizens to protect their country. And what are we doing? Nothing good: the border police are completely demotivated in view of the poor working conditions and pay. And thousands of positions are vacant in the army, yet hardly anyone seems worried.”
Sofia won't fend off refugees for free
The Bulgarian government is trying to use the refugee crisis to push through its political goals in the EU, the weekly paper Capital believes:
“In return for stopping refugees coming from Turkey Borisov wants the EU to support Bulgaria's bid to join the Schengen Area and the Eurozone. That is not a bad thing in itself. More EU integration would be good for Bulgaria, but we must not forget why we are on the periphery of the EU. Bulgaria is not in the Eurozone or the Schengen Area because of massive corruption, interdependency between the state and organised crime, and its ramshackle judicial system. ... It just doesn't wash for a country without a functioning legal system to say it should be more integrated in the EU merely because it shares a border with Turkey.”