Friday August 21, 2015
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A young migrant boy waits for a registration procedure at the port on the Greek island of Lesbos, August 21, 2015. Bulgaria is trying to stop fresh influx of refugees from Macedonia and Greece. — Reuters picA young migrant boy waits for a registration procedure at the port on the Greek island of Lesbos, August 21, 2015. Bulgaria is trying to stop fresh influx of refugees from Macedonia and Greece. — Reuters picSOFIA, Aug 21 — Bulgaria said today it was ready to dispatch its armed forces to secure its southwestern borders with Greece and Macedonia against any fresh influx of refugees.

The announcement came after Macedonia declared a state of emergency and closed its border with Greece because of large numbers of migrants trying to cross.

The move could divert migrants towards Bulgaria, which borders both countries.

“In relation to the complicated situation in the neighbouring countries and the wave of refugees, the ministry of defence will propose concrete measures to secure the state border together with the interior ministry,” a Bulgarian defence ministry statement said.

“The armed forces would... conduct joint activities with the border police for strengthening control of the border,” it added.

Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova told reporters that Bulgaria has not yet noticed any “serious rise” in migrant numbers but she and other officials met today with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to discuss additional measures.

Until now Bulgaria’s main focus has been on stopping migrants crossing over its border with Turkey, where it has dispatched over 1,000 extra police and where it is expanding a 30-kilometre barrier.

Bulgaria is a member of the European Union but is not part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone and anecdotal evidence suggests many migrants try to cross from there into non-EU Serbia and then try to make it to Hungary, which is part of Schengen.

Hungary is building a controversial fence along its entire border with Serbia which is scheduled to be completed by August 31.

Bulgarian officials did not say how many soldiers would be deployed nor did they give a start date for the operation, saying such matters have yet to be discussed. — AFP

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