The visit of European Council President Donald Tusk to Slovenia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece has ended. His messages were related to EU enlargement after Brexit, saving Greece from bankruptcy, as well as " the new European project" as the future Multi-speed EU is called. But the main topic of the tour was Tusk explaining how Brussels skillfully and effectively helped the Balkan countries suppress the so-called "Balkan route" of migrants by signing an agreement with Turkey to keep migrants on its territory.
In Sofia Tusk was welcomed by President Rumen Radev. After their meeting President of the European Council started with a pat on the shoulder: "Bulgaria is the best example of guarding the borders of the EU, including the border with Turkey." Tusk added in this regard that Sofia was one step away from joining the Schengen area that he approved of Bulgaria joining but there were members who were opposed. This cliche in different forms has been heard over the year during each visit to Sofia a senior EU official.
Another cliché that we heard from Tusk was that the EU meant not only funds and programs but shared values, political solidarity and dignity. Tusk added he realized the burden of guarding the border with Turkey on the Bulgarian budget was high and announced that in case of a crisis situation, the EU was ready for providing urgent financing to Bulgaria. This is another promise, proving that funds are what matters most after all. But currently Bulgaria should continue to spend its own money after the financial assistance from Brussels granted some time ago has long been utilized. "The security of European citizens starts from the security of the Bulgarian border," President Rumen Radev said. The head of state urged adoption of a common operational EU plan to protect the Bulgarian border in case of massive migration pressure. He reminded the guests that it was extremely important for Sofia to keep good neighborly relations with Turkey. But on the other hand "rising tensions between the EU and Turkey creates the greatest risk for Bulgaria." The answer of Tusk was that the EU fulfilled its obligations under the contract (giving billions to Ankara) and expected Turkey also to keep their part of the agreement (hold millions of migrants on its territory).
But are the accounts right? In a few days, a referendum in Turkey will most likely give unlimited power to the current president Erdoğan. And then "the new sultan" of the neighboring country could some day decide to unleash hundreds of thousand of migrants to Western Europe. In such a case the fences along the Bulgarian border with Turkey will be swept away and, I wonder, how would then the additional help promised by Brussels help? Or how would the shared values, political solidarity and dignity help?
Wasn't it better, instead of paying billions to Turkey, the EU to build with that money accommodation camps near conflict zones that generate refugees and migrants? Tusk in Sofia did not voice agreement or disagreement on this topic.