'Mother Tongue' Campaigning Debate Fires up Bulgarian MPs
A huge scandal erupted in the Bulgarian Parliament Friday, caused by the rejection of the possibility of election campaigning in native language other than Bulgarian.
The resulting lack of quorum led to the adjourning of the session only 50 minutes after it started, despite the pressing need to approve the new Election Code, ahead of the European elections.
The lawmakers rejected the proposal of the liberal, predominantly ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) to allow election campaigning in a language other than Bulgarian with translation in Bulgarian.
This caused a sharp reaction from the leader of DPS, Lyutvi Mestan, who announced that with this action the Parliament sends a message to countries with Bulgarian minorities that they may not respect their rights.
DPS MP Hussein Hafazov, a former spokesman for the Chief Mufti's Office, took the floor after Mestan and said that his dream was to live in a free and democratic Bulgaria.
"And one day I will achieve it, no matter your attitude to democracy," said he and turned to his colleagues who voted against the proposal.
"I will walk the path of Osman Kalic, Ahmet Davutoglu from the village of Iskra, the path of Nuri Adala and Ahmed Dogan. I am for democracy, no matter your attitude to democracy and minorities in the country," stated Hafazov.
The mention of Ahmet Davutoglu fired up a number of those present and prompted all MPs from the formerly-ruling opposition centrist Citizens for European Development of Bulgarian party (GERB) and the ultranationalist Ataka to leave plenary hall.
From the parliamentary tribune MP Yanaki Stoilov, from the ruling left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), expressed hope that his colleague from DPS did not mean Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu who is the ideologist of neo-Ottomanism.
In a subsequent statement Hafazov said that all names he mentioned were of Bulgarian citizens who have fought for the rights of minorities.
The ensuing check of the number of those present established lack of quorum and the Speaker of the Parliament, Mihail Mikov terminated the session and announced that if an emergency session is not convened, the MPs will meet next Wednesday.
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