The European Commission wants to strengthen the land border between Bulgaria and Turkey with management capabilities, commission president Ursula von der Leyen said during a speech at the European Parliament on Wednesday, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Bulgarian News Agency.
“We have a shared interest in strong external borders. The most pressing issues right now are at the land border between Bulgaria and Turkiye,” von der Leyen said, adding that “we can strengthen the border management capabilities. We can also provide infrastructure and equipment, like drones, radar and other means of surveillance.”
The statement comes after Austria’s chancellor said he would lobby the EU for €2 billion in funding for Bulgaria to fortify its border with Turkey, according to the EUobserver.
The commission also wants to increase the presence of the EU’s border and coast guard agency Frontex at the Bulgaria-Turkey border.
The shared border already has a 270-kilometer metal fence to prevent asylum seekers, migrants and refugees from entering.
In November, Bulgaria deployed 350 soldiers to the border with Turkey to help police cope with the growing influx of migrants, Agence France-Presse previously reported, citing the Bulgarian defense minister.
The level of violence along the Bulgaria-Turkey border also appears to have intensified, according to Frontex.
In December, the commission urged Bulgaria to thoroughly investigate the alleged shooting by Bulgarian guards of a Syrian refugee on the country’s border with Turkey.
A video released earlier showed an asylum seeker collapsing to the ground after being struck by a bullet that penetrates his hand and lodges in his chest on October 3. In a separate video recorded days later, the man identified himself as 19-year-old Abdullah El Rustum from Syria. He said he was shot by Bulgarian border officers after his group was caught trying to illegally enter Bulgaria and pushed back into Turkey.
The Bulgarian government denied the allegations.
In December, a migrant froze to death in a village on the Bulgarian border in the western Turkish province of Edirne after being beaten and pushed back by Bulgaria, while another migrant was found suffering from hypothermia, according to Turkish media.