Siva Reka & the border region (noborders Bulgaria)

4 Sep

Siva Reka, site of the No Border Bulgaria camp, is a small village in the border region close to the border with Greece and Turkey. It is a region without much work which seems to have resulted in many people moving away to work (to other cities and countries). And with a lot of EU money invested in ‘security’ – jobs with the border authorities are one of the few opportunities. Many people have relatives and friends who work in these jobs.

The region has been affected by the border in various ways at different times. During the Balkan Wars, population exchange programmes took place, while during the Cold War period the Bulgarian-Turkish border was one of the most heavily fortified in Europe. Today, the region is one of both inward and outward migration.

The border is now being fortified, as Bulgaria tries to join the Schengen Agreement area  – in which EU states have reduced border controls within the EU  (for EU nationals), and at the same time a strengthened external border, sometimes described as ‘Fortress Europe’.

Detention Centre in Lyubimetz

In Lyubimetz, 20km from the No Border camp, a new 350 capacity detention centre has been built, funded with 80% European funding, and in Pastrogor, a few more km away, a 350 capacity fast-track ‘transit centre’ is about to open. Other centres have opened in Sofia, Busmantzi and Banya. The border itself is being fortified, with increased controls, extending the quantity and quality of border surveillance and monitoring equipment, new migrant and visa legislation, as well as other measures. Bulgaria has spent 160 million euros during the last three years for “strengthening its borders”, 80% financed by the European Union. The EU is increasing its allocation of funds for the implementation of border management to Bulgaria in 2012 through the External Borders Fund. More info on Bulgaria and Schengen at http://noborderbulgaria.org/en/node/33

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