Turkish PM Speech Stirs Controversy on Balkans

Politics » DIPLOMACY | December 11, 2013, Wednesday // 17:21
Turkish PM Speech Stirs Controversy on Balkans: Turkish PM Speech Stirs Controversy on Balkans Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo by EPA/BGNES

A controversial speech of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stirred a scandal on the Balkans, including in Bulgaria.

During a three-day tour of European Turkey for the launch of his campaign for local elections, Erdogan stressed on the importance of the Thrace region for his country.

He has said that Thrace was also Thessaloniki and Xanti (Greece), Deliorman and Kardzhali (Bulgaria), Skopje and Vardar (Macedonia) and Pristina (Kosovo), among other places.

"Thrace is a witness of our history. This region is representative of our entire history," Erdogan has indicated.

This prompted the reaction of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, which issued a statement Wednesday, pointing out that in the light of the traditionally good relations between the two countries, such words don't contribute to bilateral dialogue and effective and pragmatic solution of remaining issues.

"Bulgaria, as a country founded over 1 300 years ago, has a significant, lasting, historical, cultural and spiritual presence, heritage and traditions in Southeastern Europe. Taking into account the historical experiences, we believe that interpretations of the past of our region should be approached with great caution, keeping in mind both sensitivity and accuracy," the statement reads.

The Foreign Ministry reminds that good neighborly relations and European perspective are the foundation of adhering to international law, including principles of sovereignty.

Greece has also reacted strongly, saying the speech has nothing to do with a friendly approach to a neighboring country which is trying to build bridges and overcome problems.

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Tags: Turkish, Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bulgaria, Balkans, Thrace, Macedoinia, greece, kosovo, campaign, local elections, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry

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