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Bulgaria Gets Closer to Schengen Accession with Border Police Helicopters

Date: 30.03.2010

Bulgaria’s Border Police Service received Tuesday its first ever helicopter

The new equipment will help the country guard the external borders of the EU, and is moving Bulgaria closer to a full membership of the Schengen Agreement, said Deputy Interior Minister Pavlin Dimitrov during the inauguration of the helicopter.

The light helicopter is made by the Italian company Augusta Westland costs EUR 5.5 M; it has been purchased with money from the state budget. Its maximum speed is 285 km/h, and it can travel a distance of up to 848 km without refueling.

The helicopter is specially designed for tasks such as policing and securing a border, searches and rescue operations; it provides for high mobility of police units.

Representatives of Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry have underscored the readiness of the government to provide for the proper security of the country’s borders, especially the ones which are external for the European Union.

Italy’s Ambassador, Stefano Benazzo, who was also present at the inauguration of the first helicopter of the Bulgarian border police, declared that his country would continued to cooperate with Bulgaria so that the latter can meet all Schengen Area criteria.

The first helicopter of the Bulgarian border police will allow it to participate in joint operations with other EU states within FRONTEX, the Warsaw-based EU agency coordinating border security operations.

Bulgaria’s border police is to receive two more light-class helicopters and a medium-class helicopter.

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