site.btaCC-DB's Konstantinova: Interior Minister's Statements Regarding Refugee Crisis in Bulgaria Are Untenable
„The statements made by caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev about the refugee crisis in Bulgaria are untenable,“ Continue the Change – Demoratic Bulgaria Deputy Chair Kalina Konstantinova wrote on her Facebook account on Tuesday. She was a Deputy Prime Minister for Effective Government in former PM Kiril Petkov's Government in the period between December 13, 2021 and August 2, 2022.
According to Konstantinova, the scale of the refugee wave that was welcomed last year was "unpredictable and unprecedented in modern Bulgarian history". "Of course, the money that our cabinet paid for five months of aid to people fleeing war is much more than what the caretaker cabinet paid after the refugee wave passed," Konstantinova added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Demerdzhiev told journalists in Parliament that he has filed a report to the Prosecution Office concerning the distribution of aid for Ukrainian refugees. The Interior Minister noted that the national task force, which he is a head of, found out that BGN 150 million were spent on the matter by the previous regular cabinet, while the caretaker Government spent BGN 43 million in a comparable period timewise. “This has prompted a review by the national task force. Such an inspection was carried out in the Tourism Ministry. Unfortunately, a number of shortcomings and violations were found,” Demerdzhiev explained the content of the signal, adding that some of the violations could lead to return of European funds.
“Not even BGN 1 from the Bulgarian budget has been used to accommodate refugees. All the funds were from the European Commission (EC) and have been coordinated with it, as an urgent restructuring of unspent EU programmes was necessary,” Konstantinova explained.
She recalled that the Ukrainian refugee accommodation programme started with 40 leva per day in the winter period, "when we found out that the institutions have no preparation and plan to respond to such a crisis."
"Once we set up working processes, when spring came, and when hundreds more hoteliers joined, the program was already costing between BGN 10-15 per day. You can do the math yourself, the difference of BGN 30 a day multiplied by hundreds of thousands. There are no ‘dead souls’ and there never were,” she added in connection with Demerdzhiev’s claim that “most likely 'dead souls' were financed - people who were accommodated in hotels only according to documents”.
“I remind you that Bulgaria was the first country, I repeat the first, to introduce temporary protection documents for refugees across the EU," Konstantinova underlined. She pointed out that the regular government had left the caretaker government "a ready-made temporary protection plan with integration measures developed to make it as easy as possible for them to move forward."