Turkish Ambassador: Mosque Attack in Bulgaria Won't Harm Relations
Bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Turkey are not imperiled by the recent attack on the mosque in Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, said Turkish ambassador to Sofia Suleyman Gokce.
"If we look at the depth of bilateral relations between the two countries, they are so vast and deep, there are so many things that we can work together on, that we just cannot let those events to mar our cooperation," said Gokce in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.
At the same time, the Turkish diplomat expressed grave concern at the events, in which some 2,000 protesters threw stones and flaming rockets at the Plovdiv mosque and then attempted to attack the Turkish consulate.
"If the situation had not been put under control, many other regrettable events might have happened," said Gokce.
The violent rally was provoked by a property claim by Bulgaria's Chief Mufti office over a string of old mosques across the country, with some seeing this as an attempt at "Islamizaton" of the country, and others going as far as to see outside influence from Turkey.
In the interview, Gokce used diplomatic caution and refused to comment internal political processes, including the rise of nationalism in Bulgaria, saying Turkey respects its neighbor as a partner and as a rule of law state.
The Turkish ambassador was also asked to comment a recent major blockade of the Bulgarian-Turkish border by Turkish shipping companies as a result of a licensing trade dispute with Bulgarian firms.
"The blockade fo the border is not something caused by Turkish authorities or Turkish institutions," explained Gokce.
"Our wish is for a just sharing of those markets for both sides. I personally worked with Bulgarian authorities, they did their best, and I hope that in the near future we will achieve a lasting solution," added he.
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