Views on BG | July 17, 2001, Tuesday // 00:00

SOFIA, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Bulgaria`s prime minister designate, former King Simeon II, reached agreement on Tuesday on the formation of a coalition government, the first in the Balkan state to include an ethnic Turk party. No names of the future cabinet have been announced, but it was likely the government would include young, Western-educated financiers charged with the task of speeding up reforms in the impoverished European Union candidate member. `Today we have reached a political agreement on a coalition government`, Plamen Panayotov, leader of the parliamentary group of the National Movement for Simeon II (NMS), said after talks with the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). MRF leader Ahmed Dogan said: `This is a big chance for gives a start to a new political culture.` The deal marks a milestone in the treatment of the ethnic Turk minority, which comprises about 10% of the eight million population. The community is particularly concerned about neighboring Macedonia, now in the grip of an ethnic Albanian revolt. Under late communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, ethnic Turks were forced to assimilate and assume Slav names which triggered the exodus of more than 300,000 people to Turkey. Many have returned as Bulgaria`s relations with regional giant Turkey have improved under Bulgaria`s previously ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), though it resisted suggestions that it include mention of an ethnic minority in the constitution.

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