Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Reanimates Turkish Irredentist Threat

Politics » DOMESTIC | September 6, 2010, Monday // 16:38
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Reanimates Turkish Irredentist Threat Volen Siderov (left) welcomed a former Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party activists in Kardzhali to the ranks of Ataka. Photo by BGNES

There is a serious threat that the Kardzhali District could be separated from Bulgaria, declared Monday the leader of the nationalist party Ataka, Volen Siderov.

During a visit to Kardzhali on Bulgaria's Unification Day, Siderov revived his claims from before the 2005 elections that foreign powers (apparently Turkey) and/or separatist forces might seek to break off the Kardzhali province, which has a Turkish minority, from the rest of the country.

In his words, despite the fact that the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) is no longer part of the government (as it was in 2001-2009), it still has a virtual monopoly of power in the Kardzhali District.

"It is outrageous not to be able to find a job just because you don't speak Turkish. Over 90% of the business and jobs here are commanded by the DPS party," Siderov said warning that he saw unofficial road signs scribbled in Turkish.

He announced his party's policies aimed at shattering the monopoly of the DPS party led by Ahmed Dogan in the southern districts of Kardzhali and Smolyan, and restated his theses that the ethnic Turkish minority in Bulgaria is of Bulgarian origin but that its ancestors adopted the Islam.

"The DNA tests show that we are all descendants of the Thracian-Bulgarians. But in the region of the Rhodope Mountain the ethnic identity is being replaced, and since the Bulgarian state abdicated from this region, and there are no vacuums in nature, the interests of the Turkish state have settled here," Siderov declared as cited by BGNES.

The nationalist leader urged the ruling party GERB to re-think its economic policies and to nationalize the power utilities, communications, and "all sectors robbed by criminal privatization."

He restated his ardent criticism and condemnation of the rightist government of Ivan Kostov (1997-2001) and the subsequent governments in 2001-2009 because of they were "guilty of the criminal privatization." Yet, he views the Kostov government as "the most criminal one in the past 20 years", and plans to issue a "Black Book" about it, listing its alleged abuses. His anti-Kostov rhetoric was enhanced by the fact that he formally welcomed a former coordinator of Kostov's Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party, Dimitar Topalov, to the ranks of "Ataka" (i.e. "Attack").

Paradoxically, both Siderov and Kostov, including the rightist Blue Coalition that he co-chairs, are in an informal coalition with the current Bulgarian government of the GERB party and Prime Minister Borisov. The nationalist party Ataka is seen as a staunchest ally of GERB. With the informal coalition (Ataka – 21 MPs; Blue Coalition – 14 MPs) the GERB party will not have a majority in Parliament with only 117 MPs out of 240.

Siderov's party Ataka sprang up before the 2005 parliamentary elections drawing support from small towns, utilizing the harsh economic situation in the province and exploiting - or instilling - fear from conflicts with religious and ethnic minorities. Since starting to back the GERB government, Siderov has toned down his previous rather radical rhetoric.

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Tags: Volen Siderov, nationalist, Ataka, Kardzhali, DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, ethnic Turkish, Turkish, Turkish minority, Bulgarian Muslims, DSB, Ivan Kostov

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