Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the press conference in Bulgaria, Sofia 11/2/2016

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11 Feb 2016
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos

Dear Friends,

First, I would like to thank, PM Borisov, Deputy PM Minister and Minister of Interior Bachvarova and Foreign Minister Mitov for their hospitality and constructive talks we had today.

Unfortunately the weather has changed our plans, I am looking forward to come back soon. Europe is facing migratory challenges.

Securing our external borders is essential.

Bulgaria is in a strategic position, neighbouring with Turkey and Serbia.

Your country bears a big responsibility for protecting the external borders of the Union.

It shall do it in full respect of the human rights of the migrants.

For the time being, the flows to Bulgaria are limited but we know that the migratory route may shift.

I welcome that Bulgaria has been proactive in preparing a contingency plan for possible sudden influx.

To support your country, we made available 91 million euros under the Home affairs Funds for the period 2014-2020.

We work closely with the Western Balkan countries and Turkey to better manage the situation.

We are supporting Italy and Greece in setting up the so-much-needed hotspots to register and fingerprint all migrants entering the EU.

But managing the migratory flows goes hand in hand with the fighting organised crime.

Migrants smugglers are well organised criminals, taking advantage of people's desperation

Europol indicates that there is a strong crossover between smuggling networks and gangs exploiting people in the sex trade or as forced labour.

They target the most vulnerable categories of migrants, in particular women and children.

We have to stop them.

To tackle this cross-border crime, we need to share intelligence and information at EU level, but also step up investigations and prosecutions.

We cannot leave these criminal networks exploit the migration crisis for their own benefit.

It is essential that Bulgaria identifies actual or potential victims of these organised crime organisation.

The police and judicial authorities shall do their job in order to ensure that these criminals are identified and prosecuted.

Dear Friends,

I have been trying to plan this trip long time now and I will certainly be back soon.

Bulgaria is in a strategic geographical position and plays an important role in today's challenges.

And Bulgaria can count on our support and my personal commitment.

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