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(DF) Authorities Say Bulgarian Border Is Under No Migrant Pressure

February 29 (BTA) – The Bulgarian authorities said Saturday that there is no migrant pressure on the Bulgarian border. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that “migration through the Bulgarian border is zero” and a similar statement was made by the head of the Border Police. They come amid reports of large masses of refugees fleeing hostilities in the Syrian province of Idlib and progressing westwards via northwestern Turkey. A senior Turkish official was quoted by the world news agencies as saying that this time Turkey would not stop them from reaching the EU. On Friday, Borissov said that there is a real risk for Bulgaria of a surging migrant wave and that gendarmerie had been sent to strengthen border security. The Defence Minister said that the Armed Forces were ready to sent to the border up to 1,000 service persons and defence equipment. Also on Friday, Borissov spoke over the phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his press office put out a statement afterwards saying that there is no immediate threat for Bulgaria. Borissov also discussed the situation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. In Plovdiv on Saturday, Borissov said that the main concern is the situation on the Bulgarian-Greek border. “The situatin on the border with Turkey is no different than it was two or three years ago,” he said adding that this is no solution to the core problem and “no normal person would want to see force being used against women and children”. There is a refugee crisis in Turkey but there is also a humanitarian crisis in Syria where close to a million people are without water and food, and forced to migrate, he said. He also said that NATO on Friday made a decision to support Turkey and Bulgaria was one of the most passionate advocates of that decision. “There is no migrant pressure on Bulgaria but we have to help Greece in all ways possible,” said the Bulgarian government leader. He said that a major meeting in Bulgaria is being prepared to try to find a lasting solution to the problems of the migrants, the military hostilities in Syria and the humanitarian crisis. The Defence Ministry said that Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov will inspect parts of the border with Turkey and Greece. On Saturday, an order was issued to put on alert 300 service persons from the Land Forces and another 50 from the special operations unit, and send them, if necessary, to help with border security. That was requested by the Interior Minister. Border Police Director Svetlan Kichikov told the press that the situation at the border with Greece and Turkey at the moment “is no different than in the recent months, meaning that all is normal. He was speaking at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on the border with Turkey. He said that a migrant flow was moving westward from Istanbul but they are not headed to the Bulgarian border. He also said that “the talks Prime Minister Borissov had with Turkish President Erdogan have produced results”. There have only been isolated attempts to cross into Bulgaria illegally, involving “a negligible number” of trespassers. He argued that there is no need at this point to bring Armed Forces personnel to the border. The people crossing the border are thoroughly checked to make sure there are no trespassers, he said. A gendarmerie truck with a water cannon was brought to the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on Saturday. LN///