Ex-Head of Bulgaria's DPS Party Determined to Stay in Politics
Lyutvi Mestan, the former head of Bulgaria's second-largest opposition party DPS, vowed to stay in politics despite recent developments.
Speaking at a press conference with his wife and with lawmakers who quit the DPS's group in Parliament, saying they would "follow him", he asserted he had done to change the party's "pro-Russian" image. He added the Bulgarian national interest should be associated with NATO and the EU, and not with Russia.
Mestan called his removal from the chairman's office and his expulsion from the party "a ritual execution".
He was dismissed as the Movement of Rights and Freedoms (DPS)'s leader and expelled on Christmas Eve after criticism from honorary chairman Ahmed Dogan who accused him of betraying national interest by siding with Turkey in its recent dispute with Russia.
Mestan, however, maintains his expulsion was illegitimate.
On Thursday he stopped short of announcing whether or not he was launching his own political project, as he had suggested he might do.
But he made clear he took pride in some decisions taken by the DPS under his three-year leadership (he took over in January 2013 after an attack on Dogan took place during a party congress).
Among these he pointed to his move to withdraw his support for the government of Plamen Oresharski which was in office between May 2013 and July 2014 and in which the DPS was the junior coalition partner of socialist BSP. Oresharski's cabinet was subject to much criticism from the very first days after Delyan Peevski, a controversial MP (of the DPS), was appointed head of domestic security and counter-intelligence agency DANS.
Mestan also recalled his party's "pro-Western" position on the South Stream pipeline project and the Ukraine crisis.
He pointed to the key importance of restoring dialogue of DPS with Ankara, a process that marked a "breakthrough" for the party over the last three years, given what he calls the need of a "strategic rethinking" of Bulgaria-Turkey relations.
"I will continue to stand up for the policies I have carried out because I believe Bulgaria needs a clear national-liberal governance to ensure its Euro-Atlantic development," the website Dnevnik.bg quotes him as saying.
"The DPS's road to power goes through the right-wing [end of the political spectrum]," he added, without explicitly mentioning parties from junior coalition partner Reformist Bloc which mostly use the term to describe themselves.
Earlier Kasim Dal, the founder of one of the RB parties, had said he did not rule out possible cooperation with Mestan.
He said that "business interests connected with the DPS" were now in office, and what he had intended was that "the [DPS] voter" (referring mostly to a majority of ethnic Turks who make up the vast part of the electorate) return to power.
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