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Greece

Bulgaria Doesn’t Want Greece to Put Refugee Center Near Border

March 11, 2020

SOFIA – Bulgaria, which has sealed itself off to refugees and migrants, is upset that Greece plans to build a closed migrant center near the border between the two countries, saying that the idea is “absurd.”

“A facility for illegal migrants on the Greek side, near our borders, will create a situation of heightened tensions. It is absurd and it is not the act of a good neighbor,” Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said in a post on Facebook, according to Greek media.

Greece’s New Democracy government, under intense pressure with Turkey sending thousands of refugees and migrants to the border along the Evros River, said it would build a facility in the northern region of Serres to detain any that get across and that those who made it after March 1 would be sent back to their countries of origin.

“The Bulgarian army is ready to react. I guarantee that I will not allow a new wave of migrants to come to our country,” Karakachanov added, in translated comments with anxiety ratcheting up.

Bulgaria has a 259-kilometer (160.935-mile) fence along its border with Turkey and has refused to take in refugees and migrants with the European Union also closing its borders, dumping the problem largely on Greece.

Turkey, violating terms of a 2016 swap deal with the EU, had already let human traffickers keep sending thousands of refugees and migrants to Greek islands near its coast and sent hordes to the land border after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Syria.

Turkey had invaded that area and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would no longer abide by the swap deal, fearing the deaths would cause more unrest in Syria and send new waves to his country, which is already holding some 3.2 million of them.

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