At the forefront of the Syrian refugee crisis : understanding the Bulgarian response
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This thesis examines the Bulgarian key decisions in its response to the Syrian refugee crisis as a border country of the European Union (EU). The theoretical objective of this study is to explain the Bulgarian engagement in pro-social behaviour and cooperation with other EU member states through the logics of action of consequentialism and appropriateness in response to the refugee crisis. It also evaluates the process of socialization within the EU states and its main microprocesses that influence Bulgaria to cooperate with the other EU states. The empirical objective shows that solidarity is not the only factor according to which Bulgaria respond to the refugee crisis and reveals how Bulgaria deals with the challenges that the refugee crisis imposes to the country - a Balkan, former socialist and one of the poorest EU countries, situated on the periphery of the EU. The empirical data is based on semi-structured, e-mail interviews and one group interview of the experts from the State agency for refugees with the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Ambassador in Norway and Iceland and individuals that have positions in refugee services in Bulgaria. In addition to the empirical data, I have reviewed literature on the meaning and the main events of the Syrian refugee crisis, definitions of the refugee crisis, the significance of the periphery EU countries on the periphery, the EU Commission’s key decisions of 2015 and 2016 and the power of the social influence. Thus, due to conformity and social influence pressures, Bulgaria which has only a ten-year EU membership choose to response appropriately to the refugee crisis by adopting a rule-guided behaviour. The country also followed the EU norms and regulations by not resigning from its interests within the EU.