Bulgaria's interim government on Tuesday denied allegations made by several Western media outlets that the country's border police shot and seriously wounded a Syrian migrant.

The broadcaster Sky News had previously reported on a corresponding incident.

Video footage shows a young man being shot.

The incident is said to have happened at the beginning of October on the Bulgarian border with Turkey.

Michael Martens

Correspondent for Southeast European countries based in Vienna.

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Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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According to the Interior Ministry in Sofia, an internal investigation has revealed that no shots were fired from the Bulgarian side.

On that date, 65 people tried to cross the border illegally.

Some had behaved "aggressively", throwing stones and injuring a border police officer, it said.

The transitional government also pointed to two consecutive reviews by the EU Commission, which revealed that Bulgaria meets the conditions for joining the Schengen area.

Rutte: Cross the border for 50 euros

The fact that the incident only became public more than two months later also has something to do with a decision that is due to be made on Thursday, according to a reading that is widespread in Sofia.

Then the Schengen member states want to decide whether to agree to the applications of Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria to join this area on January 1, 2023.

While no resistance has recently been heard against Croatia's wish to join, the Netherlands in particular are opposed to Bulgaria.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made it clear on Tuesday on the fringes of the Western Balkans summit in Tirana that his country would vote against Bulgaria's admission at the meeting of EU interior ministers.

"It's not a no, it's a not-yet," said Rutte.

He spoke to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev about it.

"I'm optimistic that we can hopefully make progress next year," said Rutte.

Dutch diplomats explained that The Hague made its decision on Bulgaria dependent on a new report by the EU Commission on the so-called cooperation and verification mechanism, which the EU Commission had set up in the course of EU accession to monitor deficits in the rule of law.

Rutte has caused irritation in the past few days with hints that you can cross the Turkish-Bulgarian border for 50 euros.

The Netherlands is contrary to the views of the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the vast majority of member states, said Bulgarian Interim Prime Minister Galab Donev.

The Dutch attitude is "anti-European".

The Czech Presidency must now decide whether to stick to its proposal to decide on a double deal on Romania and Bulgaria, in light of Rutte's announcement on Tuesday.

Then Den Haag would not be able to agree with both countries.

In this case, unanimity is mandatory.

However, reports of brutal actions by the Bulgarian border police against irregular migrants are not new.

Many have solid evidence.

The context also includes the fact that three Bulgarian police officers have already died this year as a result of violence by migrants.

At the beginning of November, a Bulgarian police officer was shot dead by unknown assailants while trying to inspect a hole in the border fence with Turkey.

In August, two police officers were killed when they blocked a bus carrying migrants.

However, according to the Bulgarian account, the bus did not stop and rolled over the officers sitting in their vehicle.