PM Borissov: Bulgaria supports EU-Turkey deal, but not Turkey's operation in Syria

Sofia to raise at the next Council meeting the need of a joint action plan in case of a sharp increase in migrant pressure

Photo: BTA PM Boyko Borissov

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that Bulgaria supports the EU-Turkey deal on refugees, not Ankara's operation in Syria, and called for an end to fighting. Borissov was answering a question after Tuesday's meeting of the Security Council, the advisory and coordinating body with the Council of Ministers, over the exacerbation of the situation in Syria.

The reporter's question to the Prime Minister was apparently provoked by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's interview with BTA in which he stated: “I am grateful for the support that Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov expressed recently in respect of Operation Peace Spring which the Turkish army is carrying out in Syria.”

Borissov said Bulgaria wants Turkey's military operation in Syria to end, adding that diplomacy alone can resolve the conflict. “We are firmly against further fighting because it causes a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Commenting on possible sanctions against Turkey, Borissov recalled that it is a major trading partner of Bulgaria, which would lose billions of leva if sanctions were imposed. He added that he hoped diplomacy and the concerted effort of all parties would yield results.

Borissov further commented that he wants the EU-Turkey agreement to be honoured. The Prime Minister said that as long as Turkey respects the agreement with Bulgaria 100%, he must stand up for this position for the sake of Bulgaria's security.

The Prime Minister stressed that Bulgaria abides by all statutory acts and is actively involved in NATO's and the EU's policy making and wants the conflict to end immediately. Asked if Ankara is aware of Sofia's position, the Prime Minister said the two countries' foreign and interior ministers and border services communicate on a daily basis.

Borissov noted that, on the other hand, being a NATO member, Turkey could invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack on a NATO country is to be treated as an attack on all NATO countries. “The official Turkish authorities claim there have been more than 700 attacks by Kurds and Syrians… Be that as it may, they (Turkey) are talking officially about Article 5,” said Borissov.

Borissov and representatives of the government and the security services briefed President Rumen Radev on the results of the Security Council meeting. The escalation of tensions in the Middle East and the measures taken by the Bulgarian authorities to ensure the security of the border and the citizens were discussed with Radev. The security services said there was no direct threat to national security but they would continue to closely follow the situation.

Borissov said Radev was detailed on the actions of the special services, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Border Police. The participants discussed their concerns and the worst possible scenario. “Nothing has changed since last week or the week before. (There are) zero migrants at the border with Turkey, stronger pressure at the border with Greece, but we have taken care of that and things are calm there as well,” Borissov commented.

Radev urged Bulgaria to raise, at the next EU Council meeting, the need of adopting a joint EU action plan in case of a sharp increase in migrant pressure on the Union's external borders, Radev's press secretariat said.

The President made such a proposal at the EU Council in 2017 and it was discussed at the Arraiolos Group summit in Athens on 11 October 2019.

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