site.btaUPDATED Frontex Director: Bulgaria Plays Essential Role in Protecting EU's External Border

Frontex Director: Bulgaria Plays Essential Role in Protecting EU's External Border
Frontex Director: Bulgaria Plays Essential Role in Protecting EU's External Border
Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens (left) and Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov (Interior Ministry Photo)

Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Hans Leijtens, visited the Bulgarian-Turkish border for the first time on Thursday, the Interior Ministry reported. During the visit, Leijtens said that Bulgaria is a very important partner, whose contribution is essential to protecting the EU's external border.

Leijtens was joined by Minister of Interior Kalin Stoyanov, who briefed Leijtens on the organization and the tasks carried to guard the border. The Minister reported that Wednesday's meeting discussed the level of interaction, specific actions for 2024, as well as the possibilities for providing a larger number of Frontex officers to be deployed at the Bulgarian-Turkish and Bulgarian-Serbian borders.

Stoyanov pointed out that Bulgaria received a positive evaluation for its achievements in the field of illegal migration. There has been a decrease of about 70% in the number of people who tried to cross the Bulgarian-Turkish border illegally in the first two months of 2024, year-on-year, the Minister said. He highlighted Leijtens's support for Bulgaria's accession to the border-free Schengen area by the end of 2024.

The Minister thanked Leijtens for the support that Frontex provides to the Bulgarian state border guard services, in particular for limiting secondary movements and strengthening the return process to the countries of origin of illegal migrants. Leijtens reported that his Agency will send between 500 and 600 of its staff to this border in March to cooperate with the Bulgarian Border Police. He identified respect for the fundamental rights of foreign nationals as one of the key questions. He said he was pleased to hear from Stoyanov and from the head of the General Directorate Border Police are taking measures to guarantee these rights.

Asked by a reporter about alerts of use of excessive force against migrants at our borders, Stoyanov said that such cases were extremely few in 2023, especially compared to 2021 and 2022. Five such cases were identified last year, Stoyanov clarified, and added that disciplinary and punitive measures have been taken in all of them.

Leijtens pointed out that respect for fundamental rights is very important. He specified that the new officers at the border will include human rights compliance specialists. In case of new alerts, the Bulgarian authorities will be notified.

/VE/

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By 19:02 on 22.04.2024 Today`s news

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