March 28, 2017

BULGARIA: Bulgaria's Socialist Leader Concedes Defeat In Elections. Borisov's Pro-EU Party Beats Socialists In Bulgaria's Snap Election.

AFP news agency published on Mar 23, 2017: Ten years after Bulgaria joined the European Union as its poorest member its economy works at two speeds, deepening the income gap between poor low-skilled workers and a handful of well-off top professionals.

Daily Sabah, Turkey
written by AP staff
Sunday March 26, 2017

The leader of Bulgaria's Socialist party has conceded defeat after exit polls showed that her party placed second in the parliamentary election held Sunday.

Socialist party leader Kornelia Ninova congratulated former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's GERB party for winning the election.

The Socialists, who campaigned on a platform of forging closer relations with Russia, ruled out any option of serving in a coalition government with the center-right GERB party.

Ninova says that if "GERB fails to form a government, we will try to do so."

Official returns are expected Monday.
The Guardian, UK
written by AFP staff in Sofia
Sunday March 26, 2017

Veteran politician ahead of BSP in polls seen as test of Russian influence in country but stable coalition may prove elusive.

Boiko Borisov, the comeback specialist of Bulgarian politics, looked to have done it again as exit polls from a snap election put his pro-EU centre-right party in first place.

Borisov’s European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party won about 32%, the exit polls on Sunday showed, ahead of the Socialist party (BSP) on about 28%.

Observers had suggested victory for the BSP might see Bulgaria, a Nato member, tilt more towards Russia. Moscow, which has long had close cultural and economic ties with Bulgaria, has been accused of seeking to expand its influence in other Balkan countries in recent months.

Borisov said after the exit poll that he was “obliged” by the vote to form a government but whether the burly former firefighter and mayor of Sofia, 57, can form a stable coalition remains to be seen.

The European Union’s poorest country, where the average monthly salary is just €500 (£430) and corruption is rife, has been unstable for years. The election was the third in four years.

Borisov, once a bodyguard for Bulgaria’s last Communist leader, has long dominated national politics, serving as prime minister from 2009 to 2013 and again from 2014 to 2017.

In between, the BSP was in power for barely a year. Both times Borisov quit early, first in 2013 after mass protests and then last November after his candidate for the presidency was beaten by a former air force chief backed by the BSP.

Forming a coalition this time will be tough. The nationalist United Patriots looked to have come third with about 8%, although the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MDL) party, representing Bulgaria’s Turkish minority, may have beaten them.


The performance of the BSP, the successors to the Communist party, was worse than expected after its new leader, Kornelia Ninova, appeared to have energised the party.

Ninova had said she was not content with Bulgaria being a “second-class member” of the EU and that she would veto an extension of sanctions imposed by Brussels on Moscow.

But Borisov also said during the campaign that he wanted more “pragmatic” ties with Russia, while Ninova, 48, insisted that she remained committed to the EU. “We are the party that ushered Bulgaria into the European Union and Nato and we stand by [our obligations in] these organisations,” she told AFP recently.

The campaign also saw a spat erupt between Bulgaria and its neighbour Turkey. Bulgaria is home to a 700,000-strong Muslim minority, most of them ethnic Turks, while at least 200,000 ethnic Turks with Bulgarian passports live in Turkey.

Ankara’s support for a new party, Dost, which unlike the main MDL party, fervently backs the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan, has irked Sofia.

The MDL’s leader, Mustafa Karadaya, has said that ErdoฤŸan had “abandoned” the values of Mustafa Kemal Atatรผrk, the founder of modern Turkey.

The dispute boosted the United Patriots, who blocked the border on Friday to stop voters coming in from Turkey, before being dispersed by police.

Published on Mar 26, 2017: Bulgarian riot police clashed with around 2,000 refugees in the country's largest migrant camp in the town of Harmanli. The facility houses around 3,000, mostly young, male and Afghan migrants. The riot was caused by a quarantine, with the camp having been sealed off following reports of skin disease outbreaks among its residents. Some men carry dangerous diseases that were previously thought to be extinct in Europe. The inhabitants protested against the temporary restrictions on leaving the center due to the risk of spreading the infection.

The refugees threw rocks at the police, set mattresses and furniture on fire and damaged structures within their own camp. 250 police officers, firefighters and gendarmerie were deployed. Riot police fought off the angry crowd with water cannons.

Officials placed the facility under quarantine after locals from the nearby town staged a protest following reports that people from the camp carried communicable skin diseases. The head of the Bulgarian Refugee Agency, which runs the camp, later said reports of the infection were false and "artificially created tension."

Meanwhile, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Korneliya Ninova said the recent clashes were the result of the government's policy towards refugees.

"We have been alarming about the problems – including health and routine issues there for such a long time. When they [officials] are neglecting the problem and only boast how much work they have done, this is the outcome we should expect," the politician told the media, as cited by FOCUS News Agency.

Bulgaria, the EU's poorest member state, has toughened its border controls to decrease the flows of illegal migrants. A security fence was built on its border with Turkey, while some 17,000 migrants have been detained since the start of the year, according to Reuters. Yet, Bulgarian nationalists have staged a number of protests recently, saying the country cannot support migrants even in lower numbers.

READ MORE HERE Nov. 24, 2016: 2,000 migrants clash with police, set Bulgaria's largest refugee center on fire (VIDEO)

Reffo news published on Jan 18, 2017: A Belgian court has criticized the Bulgarian state for taking in refugees even when it's against the rules.

The Express, UK
written by Nick Gutteridge
Saturday November 26, 2016

BULGARIA'S furious prime minister ordered officials to begin the mass deportation of hundreds of migrants who went on the rampage and wrecked their camp.

Fuming Boiko Borisov vowed all migrants involved in the violent disturbance will be "brought to justice" with many being deported back to their home countries.

Riot police had to storm the camp yesterday using water cannon and rubber bullets to restore order at the camp on the border with Turkey, with 24 officers being injured in the operation.

Shocking photographs of the burning rubble of the camp showed gangs of young men milling around in hoodies. Most are from Afghanistan, according to officials.

Witnesses said the scene "looked like a war zone" after rampaging refugees smashed windows, overturned rubbish containers and set fires.

Those who are not sent back to the Middle East will be dispersed to migrant camps across the country in a bid to prevent them from organising another violent uprising.

Mr Borisov raged: "I am very worried. You see there is no window left unbroken. The people who committed these acts of vandalism will be brought to justice.

"Based on an agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan we have asked for a plane to start extraditing people there in early December. As for the rest, all who have acted brutally and violated public order will be moved to closed camps."

More than 400 asylum seekers had been confined in a part of the camp after rumours rippled through a nearby town that many of them had a serious and highly contagious skin condition. It is home to around 3,000 migrants overall, making it the largest in Bulgaria.

Officials put the site on lockdown whilst detailed medical examinations were carried out, although doctors later said the level of sickness in the camp had been exaggerated.

However, residents in nearby Harmanli have upped their calls for the camp to be permanently closed, claiming that migrants regularly venture into the town and steal from them.

Local Rusi Stoev said: "This camp should be closed. You should see what it's like here at weekends. They go around in big groups and take fruit and vegetables at the market without paying."

Almost all of the migrants in the camp want to travel onwards to rich western European countries like Germany and Scandinavia, where they hope to start new lives.

Representatives for the asylum seekers have been demanding that they be allowed free passage into neighbouring Serbia, which is the next step on the Balkans route to the promised lands. However, the country's interior ministry has refused that request and has instead beefed up security by deploying more border guards.

Bulgaria has been one of the main transit points for the more than a million migrants who have entered Europe from the Middle East and North Africa in the last year.

The country has built a fence along its land border with Turkey and has beefed up border controls to deter asylum seekers from attempting the crossing.

Officials say some 17,000 people were detained in the first 10 months of the year, down by more than a third from the same period in 2015.

Despite the decreasing numbers, Bulgarian nationalists have staged protests in recent months calling for the immediate closure of all refugee centres and for migrants to be returned to Turkey or to their country of origin.

Published on Feb 20, 2016: 11 people were arrested yesterday following a riot involving (Islamist male) Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis which broke out over a dispute involving a Syrian non-Muslim woman refusing to wear a headscarf, a hijab required by Islamic sharia law.

RT news
written by Staff
February 23, 2016

About 100 refugees from various countries clashed with each other in a massive fight in a refugee shelter in Belgium that left seven people injured. The brawl occurred amid a dispute over a woman refusing to wear a headscarf.

The riot occurred in the town of Leopoldsburg, Belgium, and involved Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees fighting with each other, Belgian media report. The refugees split up into two groups, with Syrians and Iraqis clashing with Afghans.

In a video of the fight published on YouTube, the refugees can be seen pulling no punches, bringing to bear plastic chairs, broomsticks and rubbish bins. The scuffle then spilled over into clashes with police, who were immediately deployed to the scene.

As a result, seven people sustained injuries and one of them was hospitalized. Eleven refugees were detained for deliberate assault and destruction of property. Most were later released.

“The four that [started the fight] have been transferred to a detention center. The seven others are individually housed and distributed in other reception centers in Flanders,” An Luyten, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Leopoldsburg, told Belgian HLN News.

The brawl was caused by a dispute over a Syrian woman refusing to wear a headscarf, for which she was bullied by several Afghan refugees.
“Two or three Afghans had been targeting a young girl from Syria for a couple of days because she was not covering her head… which is weird, because several other girls were also not wearing a headscarf. It is not clear why they were after this girl in particular,” Luyten told Flanders News, commenting on the incident.

The dispute divided the camp, eventually growing into a fight between Syrians and Iraqis defended the woman, and Afghans expressed their outrage.

Theo Francken, the Belgian minister for asylum and migration, condemned the incident and denounced it as “unacceptable.”

“I find it totally unacceptable that some young Afghans find it necessary to tell Syrian girls to wear a headscarf and that they should not dress like Western girls,” he said, as quoted by HLN News.

“They come here, they are guests here. We are not theirs. They have to adapt to our rules,” he added.

Wouter Beke, the mayor of Leopoldsburg, even suggested to separate people of different nationalities living in the shelter as well as to separate single men from families. However, these proposals were rejected by Francken, who said such measure could send a wrong signal and “encourage segregation rather than integration.”

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