Ousted Leader of Bulgaria's DPS Meets Turkish PM in Ankara
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has received Lyutvi Mestan, who was expelled as head of Bulgaria's third-largest DPS party.
At the government residency in the Cankaya district in Ankara, the two have discussed Bulgarian politics, members of Mestan's future party DOST have said in a press statement.
Mestan is to set up DOST (an acronym standing for Democrats for Unity, Solidarity and Tolerance which also spells and sounds like a word for "friend" in Turkish) on April 10, more than three months after being dismissed as DPS leader and ousted from the party.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Bulgaria's third-biggest party predominantly linked to ethnic Turks, initiated a rapproachment with Turkish authorities under the leadership of Mestan in 2013.
But the party's honorary chairman, Ahmed Dogan, in December criticized Mestan for siding with Turkey in the Moscow-Ankara diplomatic spat, accusing him of betraying national interests.
On Friday, Mestan made Davutoglu familiar with the circumstances that led to the founding of DOST. In the statement, he is quoted as telling the Turkish PM that one of the party's key priorities will be Bulgaria's development as "a real [member of] NATO and a true European state," also calling for a strategic Bulgarian-Turkish partnership.
Mestan also reportedly sent Davutoglu the best regards of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The Bulgarian politician announced last week he was to travel to Ankara to meet Davutoglu and had met with Borisov to inform him personally.
In the summer of 2014, Mestan also visited Ankara to talk with then newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and purportedly discuss bilateral relations, at a time Bulgaria had an interim government and was heading for a snap election.
Separately, also last week, the DPS itself held a meeting with the Turkish Republican People's Party (CHP), which is in opposition, and invited its leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to a congress due also in April when a permanent successor to Mestan is to be elected.
The DPS accuses DOST of being a covertly Islamist movement, while some Bulgarian media outlets have reported Mestan's future party is being funded by Turkey.
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