Around 1,000 truck drivers are expected to protest Bulgaria's move to charge high transit fees by driving their trucks today to the embassy building located in the heart of the capital.
�10 trucks, 20 trucks are welcome but 1,000…it does not sound possible,� a Bulgarian diplomat told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. On June 28, Bulgaria started to charge trucks passing through its territory $271 as transit fees, which sparked reactions from Turkey's International Transporters Association, or UND, home to Europe's largest trucking fleet.
�The annual additional cost of this new application will be around $100 million. It will surely affect Turkish transporters,� Tamer Dinçşahin, UND's president told business daily Referans.
Dinçşahin said they have obtained the necessary permission from Ankara police and if not 1,000, at least 500 trucks would be present in front of the embassy in protest. �What we want to is to send a message to Bulgarian authorities,� he said.
He maintained that both the Foreign Ministry and Undersecretary of Foreign Trade are trying to resolve the issue. �These sort of problems increased after Bulgaria's entrance to the European Union. The EU backs such decisions by Bulgaria which would also create financial income for Sofia,� he said.
Greece is a member of the EU, Dinçşahin said, but they have no such application. �If the problem is not solved, we will use the Greece-Macedonia route to reach Europe,� he said.
PM Erdoğan to step in
Meanwhile, Bulgarian diplomats said the transit fee was the result of a recent agreement between the two countries in the field of transportation. �We have ratified and put it into force. But the Turkish side has not completed the process,� the diplomat said.
Besides bureaucrats, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also interested in resolving the problem, diplomats said. Erdoğan is expected to telephone his Bulgarian counterpart Sergei Stanishev in the coming days to express Turkish uneasiness with the high transit fee.
�The implementation of the transit fee is not limited to Turkish drivers. It is valid for all other countries' trucks. I do not think that there would be a reduction in the transit fee,� the Bulgarian diplomat said.