Bulgaria to build fence on Greece border to stop refugees

Bulgarian PM says they are ready to build fence on Greece border to disable possible new refugee route

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Workers attach barbed wire to a border fence to prevent illegal crossings by refugees at the Bulgarian-Turkish border near the Bulgarian village of Shtit, on March 18, 2016

Bulgaria is ready to build a fence on its border with Greece to keep out refugees amid fears that it can be the new route to Europe for people fleeing war after the Western Balkan route was closed, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Friday.

"The main threat is coming from the Greek border," Borisov told parliament on Friday.

"It is very long and unprotected, and our concern is that the Greek government did not take measures in recent months. We are ready to erect a barrier if necessary."

Bulgaria shares about 500 km border with Greece.

The EU member country already began building the fence along its Turkish frontier in November 2013, to prevent refugees cross the land border from Turkey.

Almost 100 kms of the planned 166 km fence have already been erected, and now that work is being speeded up.

"We are continuing at an accelerated rate of six kilometres per month," Stanislav Dechev, governor of the Haskovo border region, told AFP.

In January, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that a fence should be erected on the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece to curb the inflow of refugees into Europe.

A refugee holds a placard in a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 18, 2016, where thousands of refugees are stranded by the Balkan border blockade.

Earlier this month, Bulgaria and Macedonia held joint operations along their common border involving helicopters and armoured vehicles to ensure control amid an increased flow of refugees.

On Thursday, Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev requested an additional 1.5 million levs ($860,000) to provide equipment for the army personnel assisting police in guarding borders against refugees.

Bulgaria has not yet seen large number of refugees on its borders despite the closure of western Balkan route.

Right groups complained bad treatment - police stealing their belongings and using violence - of some 30,000 refugees who crossed the country last year, .

"On websites giving advice to refugees, crossing into Bulgaria is advised against," Vladimir Chukov, a Bulgarian Arab expert, said.

TRTWorld and agencies