EU Home Affairs Commissioner Johansson pays working visit to Sofia

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson is on a working visit to Bulgaria for talks with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, and other officials. Meeting Johansson, Borissov said, quoted by the government's information service, that migration is a priority topic for Bulgaria and at the moment the country successfully manages the migratory pressure.

The Prime Minister said that the migratory pressure has decreased compared to this time last year, which he attributed to the measures Bulgaria has undertaken and also to the good cooperation with neighbouring third countries, Turkey in particular.

Borissov praised the approach of the EU Home Affairs Commissioner to visit member states and see their attitudes towards the new European pact on immigration and asylum. The Prime Minister noted the importance of having a balance between responsibility and solidarity and attention to the specific circumstances of the individual Member States.

Borissov said this country supports the strengthened border control and the registration of every person who crosses the border. Bulgaria successfully copes with this commitment, he said, adding that if the procedures and checks concerning asylum are only performed by the country of the point of first entry, this will place excessive responsibility on the frontline countries, without reciprocatory solidarity.

Borissov said that each country needs to ensure its national security in a way that guarantees the security of the entire EU, and the other way round - the EU needs to ensure its security in a way guaranteeing the security of the frontier member state.

Regarding the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, Borissov said that after the indicators and recommendations laid down in it have been fulfilled, the mechanism in respect to Bulgaria should be terminated. The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Mladen Marinov.

Later on Monday Johansson met with heads of various parliamentary committees in the National Assembly, Parliament said in a press release. The chairman of the Internal Security and Public Order Committee, Plamen Nounev, said that thanks to the successful management of the ongoing processes and the measures Bulgaria undertakes, the migratory pressure lessens. Nounev said that this is also thanks to the improved legislation, the fence along the border with Turkey, the registration in EURODAC (European Asylum Dactyloscopy Database), and the good cooperation with third countries, Turkey in particular.

The chairperson of the Foreign Policy Committee, Djema Grozdanova, said that it not a viable option to have flexible solidarity from the countries that are not external borders of the EU and demand responsibility from frontline countries, such as Bulgaria. Grozdanova said that Bulgaria expects assistance from other member states, a clearly regulated policy on returns and on resettlement quotas.

She noted that migration has a human aspect as well, so that attention should be paid to the observance of human rights, and not only look at financial resources and logistics. Johansson stressed that she is seeking a dialogue with member states and has not yet made a decision on the draft migration and asylum pact.

The EU Commissioner said that talks had been held on a suggestion to cut by 40 per cent the funding for migration and security, although it is not yet decided what the respective allocations will be in the EU multiannual financial framework.

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