Troops for Turkish border ‘unacceptable,’ Bulgarian president says
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has denounced a request by the country’s interior minister for troops to be sent to the Turkish border to deter immigrants, saying it could spark “a diplomatic scandal.”
His comments came on Jan. 6, a day after Interior Minister Vesselin Vuchkov told reporters that it would be “no problem to deploy a small number of military personnel temporarily to help secure the border” against immigrants.
“Guarding our border with an allied nation such as Turkey with soldiers, armored vehicles and equipment is unacceptable,” he said. “Turkey is our friend and a NATO ally, sending more troops to the border is unthinkable. I cannot allow more soldiers to be deployed at the border ... It may cause a diplomatic scandal.”
Bulgaria has been struggling to cope with a large wave of asylum seekers mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea since 2011, according to the UNHCR.
Most migrants who enter Bulgaria are believed to be heading west into other EU countries but, under EU rules, countries where migrants lodge their asylum bids are responsible for taking care of them.
More than 20 countries are reported to have asked Sofia to accept the return of 6,800 immigrants. The Bulgarian government said it would accept 3,600.
Officials from Bulgaria’s defense and interior ministries have called for a border fence which covers part of the Bulgarian-Turkish border to be extended.
The country has been criticized for mistreating asylum seekers.
Human Rights Watch alleged in April 2014 that Bulgaria had violated the rights of asylum seekers by forcing them back across its border into Turkey.