PM Borissov Discusses Recent Migrant Pressure with Turkish President Erdogan, Who Slams EU for Failing to Share Refugee Burden
Ankara/Sofia, March 3 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred in Ankara on Monday evening with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss opportunities for overcoming the tension caused by the increased migrant flow from Turkey to the EU in recent days and the measures for de-escalating the tension in Syria. The two gave a joint news conference after the meeting, during which Erdogan slammed the EU for failing to share the refugee burden with Turkey.
Speaking at the joint news conference, the Bulgarian Prime Minister thanked Turkey for observing the agreement with the EU concerning the Bulgarian-Turkish border. "This allows Bulgarian citizens to sleep peacefully. Therefore we reconfirmed this commitment," Borissov is quoted by his Cabinet's press service as saying after his meeting with President Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara.
"I made a lot of efforts to hold a trilateral meeting in Sofia in a larger format. Meanwhile, the President (Erdogan) was ready to come to Sofia on Friday. However, his unwillingness to sit at the same table with the colleague (Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis dampened my desire to have such a meeting. My invitation,
however, still stands," Borissov said.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister expressed his belief that sooner or later, such a meeting must be held with the European Commission, the European Council and partners. "Maybe not everyone is ready and they don't see the looming huge humanitarian threat," Borissov said. Actions must be taken sensibly, peacefully and diplomatically, while observing the other side's interests and the signed agreements, he added.
President Erdogan noted the burden of over 4,000,000 refugees on Turkey, which is observing its agreement with the EU. He expressed regret, however, that his country's expectations for the EU to share this burden were not met.
"They promised to give Turkey 6 billion euro, but did they keep this promise? No. Now they are promising to send us 1 billion euro. Who are you fooling? We don't want this money anymore," said President Erdogan during the news conference.
"We warned that if the EU does not support us in sharing this burden, we will be forced to open the borders," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey has met all obligations included in the framework agreement. He expressed regret that Turkey's expectations for the just distribution the refugee burden were not met and that the EU said in its declaration that Turkey has not met its obligations from the (EU-Turkey refugee) agreement from March 18. Erdogan accused the EU of applying a double standard towards his country. According to him, the EU is ignoring problems related to Turkey's border security, while supporting the murders (of migrants) committed by Greece in violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention, which it has signed, as well as the Human Rights Charter.
Erdogan stressed that migrants have the right to go to any country they desire and cannot be kept by force in a given state. They are leaving Turkey on their own free will, while countries like Greece must observe international agreements and are obliged to provide protection to migrants, he said, adding that Greek soldiers have already killed two migrants, while another one has been seriously injured.
The Turkish head of State expressed satisfaction that Bulgaria is addressing these problems sensibly, noting the excellent relations between Bulgaria and Turkey. "We have wonderful cooperation with Bulgaria in the area of security and solidarity, based on mutual respect and understanding. This notion of cooperation and solidarity must serve as an example for all the EU countries," Erdogan further said, thanking Borissov and his delegation for their visit to Turkey.
Borissov welcomed Turkey's desire to find a peaceful solution together with Russia this Thursday, so that the deadly conflict in Syria can be resolved diplomatically.
He also thanked President Erdogan for the swiftly established contact with the Bulgarian Health Minister for providing an urgent shipment of Turkish-made protective clothing against the coronavirus, for which there is a shortage in Bulgaria.
Before leaving for Ankara to meet President Erdogan, Prime Minister Borissov told journalists that his talks with Erdogan will focus on the opportunities for overcoming the tension caused by the increased migrant flow from Turkey to the EU in recent days and the measures for deescalating the tension in Syria.
Borissov proposed that a security centre be set up outside of the EU to immediately accommodate the migrants. The expenses will be covered by the Union, he specified.
Borissov told journalists that the conflict close to the Bulgarian border affects economic growth and business. "When you add the current flu strain plus the coronavirus, things might get dramatic at some point," he said.
In his words, even today Bulgaria has zero illegal migration and the country has perfect relations with the border services and the ministries of Turkey and Greece.
BTA's special correspondent Nahide Deniz has contributed to this story.