site.btaSome 8,000 Third-Country Nationals Have Attempted to Illegally Cross into Bulgaria Since January 1, Interior Minister Says

Some 8,000 Third-Country Nationals Have Attempted to Illegally Cross into Bulgaria Since January 1, Interior Minister Says
Some 8,000 Third-Country Nationals Have Attempted to Illegally Cross into Bulgaria Since January 1, Interior Minister Says
Caretaker Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov (BTA Photo)

Since the beginning of the year, about 8,000 third-country nationals have tried to cross the Bulgarian-Turkish border illegally, compared to more than 30,000 in the same period of 2023, caretaker Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov said on Bulgarian National Television on Monday.

Stoyanov commented on the visits to Bulgaria of German Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. According to him, these visits were aimed at Bulgaria once again receiving a high mark for the results it has achieved. "Johansson said on several occasions that Bulgaria and Romania are much more prepared for Schengen membership than countries that have been Schengen members for a long time. She recommitted to doomg everything possible to get a date for our accession to Schengen by the end of this calendar year. And I am confident that this will happen. The comments will be open at the beginning of June, when the Justice and Home Affairs Council takes place," Stoyanov said.

He stressed that Austria totally blocked the negotiations on Bulgaria's Schengen membership on December 8, 2022. "Back then, the reason according to them [Austria] was that at the time, Bulgaria was not handling the illegal migration. At the moment, everyone admits that there has been a huge change. The fact that we were accepted by air and by water [in March] speaks volumes," the Minister added.

Commenting on the upcoming snap general elections and European Parliament elections on June 9, Stoyanov said that the caretaker cabinet cannot possibly be working for anyone. "If anybody thinks any political party can win the elections through the Interior Ministry, they are sorely mistaken.The Interior Ministry has nothing to do with the organisation of the elections, but with the security of polling stations, machines, election papers and the fight against vote-buying," Stoyanov explained. 

Asked why GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) constantly back him up, Stoyanov said, "For several months there has been a very powerful attack against the Interior Ministry and me, in particular. Maybe it is [because of] the fact that all these people have understood that I am not a person they can call on the phone and say, 'This one - over there, in that position.' In terms of those who have backed me up - maybe they have seen what we have done regarding Schengen; maybe they see what we are trying to solve: the problem of road trauma; maybe they see what I am doing for Interior Ministry staff and the Ministry's priorities and objectives," Stoyanov argued.

Stoyanov also commented on the April 4 detention of Customs Agency head Petya Bankova and the charges brought against her for participation in an organized criminal group for influence peddling, smuggling, and bribery along with three other people, including Stefan Dimitrov. "Such an operation certainly started quite some time ago. Colleagues from the State Agency for National Secuirty and the Anti-Corruption Commission, in coordination with the City Prosecutor's Office, which oversees the proceedings, have taken the decision to proceed with the implementation. Let us not suggest that this thing was done on some purpose," the Interior Minister said.

He underscored that he did not know about that operation being in the works, and the Interior Ministry did not have information about it until the last moment. Stoyanov said he did not know those accused of smuggling - Stefan Dimitrov and Marin Dimitrov, though he said the two were often at the Interior Ministry to meet with former interior minister Boyko Rashkov. Whether the two of them are smugglers will become clear during the proceedings and the final result of this investigation, Stoyanov added.

/MR/

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By 10:12 on 18.05.2024 Today`s news

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