Bulgarian truckers lift Turkey trade route blockade

Published: Updated:

Bulgarian truckers have lifted their two-day blockade of the country’s border with Turkey - a key trade route between the Middle East and central Europe, the interior ministry said Saturday.

The passage of trucks through the southeastern Kapitan Andreevo and Lesovo border checkpoints was reopened late Friday, the ministry said in a statement.

Traffic remained backed up on Saturday, due to the long lines that had formed over the two days of blockade.

The ministry said there was a five-kilometer (three-mile) queue of trucks waiting to cross over at Kapitan Andreevo while at Lesovo the line stretched to about three kilometers.

Angry Bulgarian truckers began blockading the two out of three crossings on the shared 259 kilometer (160 mile) border between the two countries on Thursday to protest against lengthy customs procedures and other restrictions by the Turkish authorities.

Bulgaria’s government intervened, filing a complaint with the European Commission on Thursday and threatening reciprocal measures against Turkish trucks passing into Bulgaria.

Tensions ran high Friday evening, prompting the deployment of about 200 gendarmes at Kapitan Andreevo to prevent clashes.

Transport Minister Kristian Krastev, who travelled to the checkpoint late Friday, convinced the drivers to unblock traffic following an agreement with the Turkish side that the restrictions will be lifted.