Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said this morning (29 June) that he is outraged that the first day of the summit lasted until 5 a.m. CET. “I proposed we should establish a trade union to defend our rights. What time of working hours is this?”
Georgi Gotev has the story.
Borissov said he was disappointed by the way the work of the summit is organised. The person responsible for the organization is Council President Donald Tusk, with whom Borissov has friendly relations. But this did not prevent him from voicing strong discontent.
Bulgaria holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. Borissov said he didn’t understand why the work in preparation of the summit, held in Sofia the format of ministerial councils (he mentioned Interior and Home Affairs), as well as work in COREPER, at ambassador level, plus various working groups and Sherpas, didn’t feed in the preparation of the summit, where everything started from scratch.
He said that it would be normal that preparations be done at an appropriate level, and presented to the summit for rubber-stamping.
“But from some time now, everything that has been done at those levels, is put aside, and the Prime Ministers start from the beginning. But the Prime Ministers have different professions, one is a lawyer, another one a welder, the third – a policeman, and we start from A to Z, to draft and propose things Bulgaria […] has proposed at COREPER level a long time ago.
His ambassador Dimitar Tzantchev, who represents Bulgaria at COREPER was next to him, nodding in agreement.
Borissov, formerly in charge of the security of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, has held the post of Chief Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, with the rank of general, under the government of the former king (2001-2005). On previous occasions, he has said that as a former policeman, he understands better migration than his summit peers.
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven has reportedly said he has been a welder, after his Italian colleague Giuseppe Conte used the argument that he is a doctor in law. According to the Guardian, Borissov intervened, saying he has been a fireman.
“So in this respect I’m satisfied, but I don’t understand why, in the absence of a real crisis, with such huge dramatism, until 6 a.m. [Bulgarian time], we stay to adopt decisions. So that every Prime Minister could come back home as a winner, this is the fashion”, Borissov said.
Here, the Bulgarian Prime Minister apparently spoke as an expert, as he is reputed for posing as a winner after every EU summit. He added that everything Bulgaria has proposed is contained in the summit conclusions.
But he also voiced some frustrations.
“It pisses me off that now everybody talk about Spain, Italy and Greece, because Bulgaria has done its homework. Indeed, they mention us as the good example, but I had sevreal times to tell my colleagues to study geography. They should read, and find out that we have a maritime border, and a land border with Turkey”.
Borissov was clearly more positive about what he said was a decision to unblock the second €3 billion euro tranche to Turkey, under the EU-Turkey agreement of July 2016.
He said that leaders had agreed to adopt the wording “on a voluntary basis” with reference of taking charge of migrants, as the Visegrad countries had insisted, hinting that he was approving the text. Regarding the “disembarkation platforms”, he said that certain EU countries had “historic relations” with Northern African countries and it was up to them to negotiate, not forgetting that those countries “have their pride, as we do”.
With great satisfaction Borissov said that the key word to tackle “secondary movements” of refugees was again “on a voluntary basis”. Further, he made it clear that Bulgaria would not conclude a bilateral government with Germany to take in refugees who have first been registered there.
“Bulgaria protects perfectly well the EU’s external borders. What agreement with Germany?”, he said, hinting that his country is already doing a lot.
This website asked Borissov about his reaction to the criticism for inhumane treatment of migrants by Bulgarian police and border guards, recently voiced by French lawyers.
Borissov answered that he was unaware of such reports and made ironic remarks about journalists asking him questions at the request of BSP leader Kornelia Ninova.
Your correspondent told him he has never met or spoken to Ninova.
“Frankly, I haven’t heard [such criticism]. The only thing I care about are the rights of the Bulgarian people. Bulgarian citizens have the right to sleep in calm.”
Borissov said that Bulgaria will continue to offer shelter to refugees needing protection, for a certain period of time, befor they return to where they came from, but economic migrants should be taken by the countries that need them.
“The Irish, Leo [Varadkar], said they need some of them, so they took some from Malta, from other places. But we don’t need such migrants”, Borissov said.
Actually, Bulgaria badly needs manpower and imports seasonal working force from several countries.
“Maybe the reputed French lawyers should better look at Donald Trump, with his new law about pushing back everyone who turns at the US borders. They should better deal with him first, before dealing with me. Or maybe he’s too big for them, so let’s push Bulgaria, fill it with migrants, and declare this is a good behaviour”, Borissov said.
Regarding the summit agreement €500 million to be released for the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, he said Bulgaria is paying its due, but unlike other countries who topped up this amount with contributions of €50 million, or €15 million, Bulgaria was not going to add more, as it was spending enough for securing the EU external border.