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Bulgarian minister attacks fears


Migrant workers look for a job in a newsagents in London

Migrant workers look for a job in a newsagents in London

Migrant workers look for a job in a newsagents in London

Bulgaria's foreign minister has hit out at the "negative" comments from British politicians about the possibility of increased immigration from his country.

Kristian Vigenin said the fears about a surge in immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania following the lifting of access restrictions at the start of the year were baseless.

Although he insisted most Bulgarian migrants to the UK came for a job, he acknowledged that there was no guarantee that all of them would be in work.

In the weeks before restrictions on the two eastern European nations were lifted, David Cameron announced tighter rules on EU migrants' access to benefits, preventing them claiming out-of-work benefits for their first three months in the UK.

Mr Vigenin told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: " Unfortunately Bulgaria and Romania became victims of previous problems that British society has faced with the previous enlargement and the lifting of restrictions.

"We feel that it was not fair to treat our citizens, especially those who are already here, that way."

He added: "We were concerned that these changes were mainly grounded with the possibility of increased numbers of Bulgarian and Romanians coming here.

"This was something that created certain negative feelings affecting Bulgaria, the way we were treated by certain political forces and certain media last year. We see that all these fears that were created were ungrounded.

"I hope that from now on we will have a much more realistic debate on all the issues related to migration and to freedom of movement of people within the EU."

He said there was no reason for Bulgarians to come to the UK because of the improving economic situation in their home country.

"Our estimations show that there will be no increased number of people coming," he said. "There are no economic, social and other reasons for that. People will continue to come but in the usual numbers that we saw in previous years."

He added: "W e now see clear signs of recovery of the Bulgarian economy, jobs are being created and you should understand that not everybody is ready to leave the country to go to another country."

People who do move to the UK "come to work and to earn money and not to misuse the welfare systems", he said.

But he acknowledged: " We cannot guarantee 100% that all of the people coming to the UK will come to work."

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