Disrupted Turkish-Bulgarian border traffic. Food is currently scarce and expensive. This makes the change of a veterinary service at the southern border of the EU all the more incomprehensible. Corruption is suspected.
The international exchange of goods across the border between Turkey and Bulgaria recently experienced massive disruption and long queues of trucks at the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing in southeastern Bulgaria.
The situation came about because, on 20 May, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA / BABH) terminated a contract held by the company Euro Lab for the sanitary-veterinary inspection of food transports. The BFSA accused Euro Lab of engaging in unlawful business practices.
Euro Lab has carried out phytosanitary inspection and the processing of documentation at the largest Turkish-Bulgarian border crossing for ten years.
Earlier in May Euro Lab owner Vasil Dimitrov complained in an open letter that an oligarch close to the government had been trying to take away his business since February. He told one of his adversary’s intermediaries in a phone call that “I have contractual relations with more than 700 importers, I have a lease agreement with the BFSA for the premises where I work from, and I have no intention of giving up my work.”
Conflict of authority
Since then, Euro Lab employees have been subjected to harassment by state authorities, Dimitrov states. In the meantime reports have also surfaced in the press accusing the new director of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA), Hristo Daskalov, of corruption.
According to Michal Kambarev, an MP for the ruling political party called ‘We Continue the Change’, about 1.8 million t of food pass through the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing every year. It isn’t only destined for Bulgaria, but for the rest of Europe too.
All this food is now checked by BFSA inspectors. Initially, this meant that samples first had to be transported to Sofia for testing, and the documentation then had to be returned to Kapitan Andreevo. This increased the overall time required for every test from an average of one hour to up to 16 hours.