Bulgaria seeks closer ties with Turkey to tackle migrant inflow
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Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov (C) inspects the barbed wire fence constructed on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, near Malko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Files
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SOFIA (Reuters) - The lack of coordinated European response to the migrant flow from the Middle East means Bulgaria must work more closely with neighboring Turkey to deal with the crisis, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Wednesday.
Government sources say Borisov is due to visit Turkey on Friday or Saturday, although there has been no official confirmation of the planned visit.
One million migrants and refugees, many coming via Turkey which says it hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees, arrived in Europe last year and several EU states have taken unilateral measures to tighten borders despite a deal between Ankara and Brussels which stemmed the flow from Turkey in recent months.
"I do not see a perspective on a solution to the migrant crisis in Europe," Borisov said. "All I see is every country trying to save itself in panic and looking for a clause in their EU membership contract that would allow them to act separately."
He also said that the "thousands and thousands" of EU regulations imposed on European Union member Bulgaria, including border monitoring and food and shelter provisions to refugees, had cost it heavily.
"Our only option is to look for a partnership with Turkey," he said in a statement.
Borisov's comments come as Turkey is trying to restore its economic and trade relations with Russia, which were damaged by downing a Russian jet last year - a move which Bulgaria may seek to follow.
Just over two months before the presidential election, Sofia is taking steps towards warmer relations with Russia after hardening its foreign policy since the Ukraine crisis.
Once a loyal Moscow ally, Bulgaria is considering reviving major Russian energy projects like the South Stream gas pipeline and the Belene nuclear power plant, which were canceled in recent years.
The ex-Communist state is almost entirely dependent on Russian energy supplies and many Bulgarians feel a deep affinity for their giant neighbor across the Black Sea.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov)
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