Bulgaria-Turkey border gates blocked by trucks

Bulgaria-Turkey border gates blocked by trucks

Burcu Purtul Uçar ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Bulgaria-Turkey border gates blocked by trucks

Turkish truckers have been blockading the Kapitan Andreevo (Kapıkule) border since Oct. 7. to protest Bulgarian customs that fined them. DHA photo

After Bulgarian customs applied full controls on Turkish trucks at the Kapitan Andreevo (Kapıkule) border and fined more than 100 trucks in a few hours, Turkish truckers have been blockading the border since Oct. 7. Despite the reconciliation efforts of a Turkish minister, the truckers are continuing the blockade, raising concerns about its effect on exports.

“Bulgaria is a very important country for Turkey’s transit passage to Europe. But Turkish truckers sometimes suffer from heavy and discretionary fines in Bulgaria and this has been causing problems,” said Fatih Şener, executive board chairman of the Istanbul-based International Transporters Association (UND).

Disagreement in September

Şener stated that two countries periodically held meetings of the Land Transport Mixed Commission, adding that the latest one ended in disagreement. “After this [disagreement], Bulgaria unilaterally launched 100 percent controls on Oct. 7. This means they started to stop every single truck. The controls have been moved to the Andreevo Customs Gate, the Bulgarian part of Kapıkule. Around 100 trucks were fined within a short period of time. These fines were based on pretexts. The trucks on the road then heard this and refused to cross the border. They said the controls would continue for one week,” he said.

Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım told the drivers that Bulgaria had suspended the controls until Oct. 29 and asked them to terminate the protest, Şener said, adding that the truckers were continuing the blockade because they “did not trust the Bulgarian authorities.”

He stated that the protest which is directed against Bulgaria, now put Turkish exports at risk. “This is a critical period for our exports because it is just before the Feast of Sacrifice. In particular, Friday and Saturday are important,” he said.

Şener noted that there was a 14-kilometer queue of trucks waiting to cross into Bulgaria at Kapitan Andreevo and a 8-10 kilometer queue waiting to cross into Turkey at Lesovo (Hamzabeyli).