Deputy Minister Stoyan Temelakiev is taking part in a ministerial conference within the framework of the South East European Cooperation Process and the Greek Presidency of the SEECP. The theme of the conference in the Greek capital Athens was “Strengthening cooperation and synergies between members of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and relevant third country partners to address existing security threats such as organized crime, illegal migration, extremism and terrorism.” “. Emphasis was placed on the challenges of the war in Ukraine and its implications for regional security with a view to trafficking and exploitation.
The Deputy Minister of Interior described the discussion as topical and timely. He stressed that the war in Ukraine poses common challenges: on the one hand, strengthening our capacity to receive refugees and effectively managing all humanitarian aspects of the war, on the other, ensuring a high level of security, including more efficient border controls. and countering the full spectrum of threats. In this sense, the need to strengthen the dialogue between all countries in the region, to carry out a rapid and direct exchange of information and good practices, to plan joint actions and to seek concrete solutions to emerging security threats and challenges comes to the fore.
Stoyan Temelakiev acquainted the participants with the current situation in Bulgaria and the measures we are taking. “From the beginning of the war until the end of April, more than 200,000 Ukrainian citizens entered Bulgaria, most of them women and children. Most refugees have crossed the border with Romania. More than 90,000 people are currently in Bulgaria, of which 87,534 are registered for temporary protection, of which 35,180 are children and 377 are unaccompanied minors. We have built a process management system at the national level – an operational coordination group at the Council of Ministers, which coordinates all activities, as well as interdepartmental groups in various areas: initial admission and provision of temporary protection; transport and accommodation; health care, education and employment and others.
At the national level, we are taking a number of measures in response to new realities and have optimized coordination for the early identification and response to security threats. Fast and easy refugee registration procedures are accompanied by strict border controls and full security checks. Intensified control of passing road vehicles for sheltered persons, weapons, ammunition, explosives and dual-use items is carried out. The control over radioactive materials has also been increased. “
He noted that the refugee flow could be used by organized criminal groups for their activities. That is why we rely on prevention. The police authorities work closely with representatives of other state institutions and especially with local authorities. This provides regular and up-to-date information on the situation and risks to refugees from Ukraine.
An organization for collecting information, assessing and analyzing potential changes in the situational picture of crime has been established within the Ministry of Interior. Regular inspections of strategic sites of critical infrastructure are carried out, inspections of persons and vehicles are carried out. The Internet is monitored daily. Measures are also being taken to prevent cyber attacks against institutions, disseminating fake news and propaganda materials. Actions have been taken to filter and restrict traffic to a large number of Internet addresses and domains from which hacker attacks are carried out.
Bulgaria supports the need for a proactive and targeted approach in response to the threats identified by EMPACT such as human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, cybercrime, drug trafficking, terrorism and others.
Illegal migration and its consequences in the field of cross-border crime require a comprehensive and coordinated response, good dialogue and operational cooperation between all countries in the region are important, said the Deputy Minister of Interior. As an example of good practice, he pointed to the established Joint Center for Police and Customs Cooperation between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, which in the last 5 years has established itself as a model for successful operational cooperation in the fight against illegal migration.