15 Feb 2013

‘No influx of immigrants’ says Bulgarian ambassador

The Bulgarian ambassador to London, Konstantin Dimitrov, denies to Channel 4 News that the relaxation of immigration rules at the end of this year, allowing Bulgarians freely to come and live or work in Britain, will be lead to an influx of Bulgarians from 2014 onwards.

Between them Romania and Bulgaria have a population of 29 million people (Bulgaria 7.5 million).UKIP has estimated that as many as 400,000 could come to the UK from the East European countries; the pressure group Migration Watch gives a possible figure of around 50,000.

But Mr Dimitrov says most Bulgarians who want to come and work in the UK have already done so, using the existing regulatory system of visas and work permits.  The scrapping of such regulations won’t make much difference, he says.

In an interview to be broadcast on Channel 4 News this evening, he said:

“Most of those who want to work legally in the UK, or to study in the UK, have done so even after 2007 when we became members of the European Union. So there are no pre-requisites for a major influx.

“I would expect new people, but only those who see niches in your labour market, for the simple reason that the search for job opportunities has been open for six to seven years now, since January 1st 2007.”

The ambassador couldn’t hide his anger about what some politicians and commentators in Britain have been saying recently about Bulgaria and its citizens. The embassy was closely monitoring these remarks, he said, and consulting lawyers about possible libel:

“What cannot be tolerated is the defamation, the negative campaign, the generalisation, the branding of a whole nation as being less fit to be integrated into the European Union, or whose citizens are less fit to be integrated and to be living as hard working law abiding citizens, or residents of the United Kingdom.”

When I pressed him on the problems of street crime committed in Britain by Bulgarian visitors, Konstantin Dimitrov said that this was indeed a problem in the recent past, but he insisted that it had now been tackled:

“We have broken the back of the petty criminality that was pestering the UK streets several years ago, and I think a testimony to that may be given by your law enforcement agencies.

“Bulgarians were a problem but no longer, as of two, three years now, and statistics can prove that.”

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