Turkish border controls tightened ahead of Bulgaria’s partial Schengen entry

Turkish borders crossing into Europe have witnessed tightened controls on vehicles entering and exiting, causing long lines and wait times, ahead of Bulgaria and Romania’s partial inclusion into the Schengen zone from March 31.

The EU reached an agreement for Bulgaria and Romania to partially join the Schengen Zone, which allows free movement from the countries within the union as of March 31. Following this development, the Bulgarian customs office in Lesovo across the Hamzabeyli Border Gate in Edirne tightened controls for the vehicles crossing from Türkiye to Bulgaria.

Truck drivers coming to the border crossing to take their cargo to Europe formed a queue of up to 10 kilometers on the road to Hamzabeyli.

While the truck park affiliated with the Customs and Tourism Enterprises (GTI) in Hamzabeyli is working at full capacity with 750 vehicles, drivers complain of waiting in the queue for hours.

“The procedures are slow and the Bulgarian police are doing heavy work, which causes these queues to form. The process needs to change,” said Mesut Seçkin, a truck driver who endured the prolonged queue for 17 hours.

The tightening of controls at the border gates appears to be a sign of measures against illegal migration, as the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Zone was vetoed a year ago by Austria,which said it was prepared to relax the rules governing air traffic if the EU’s external borders were strengthened.

Austria had put forward the idea of what it called “Air Schengen” at the beginning of December. However, the final decision on the two countries’ partial entry also includes maritime travel.

Romania and Bulgaria, both members of the EU since 2007, were rejected at the end of 2022 from the vast zone within which more than 400 million people can travel freely without internal border controls.

Source: hurriyetdailynews

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