Turkish Daily Warns of Ankara's Interference in Bulgaria
Turkey has managed to stir confusion in Bulgaria and meddle in the country's internal affairs to an extent that leaves no room for rhetoric, an article reads in the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet [TR], as quoted by the Bulgarian News Agency.
Describing Bulgaria as Turkey's "best neighbor", the author, Ceyda Karan, summarizes developments in relations of the past months, underlining they are not just connected to the downing of the Russian Su-24 warplane and the dispute with Russia that followed.
Bulgaria's center-right Prime Minister has no interest in ruining relations with Turkey, which is sharing with Turkey a 275-km long border, and considering threats by Turkish officials the border could be opened to let migrants into the EU.
However, Bulgaria is also seeking to maintain relations with Russia, both countries having had the same political regime and systems for decades in the past and Sofia being dependent on Russian gas supplies and tourists.
Developments at the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the predominantly ethnic Turk party that is also the third-largest political force in Bulgaria's Parliament, are also summarized in relation to the expulsion of Lyutvi Mestan as head of the party last year.
The DPS's honorary chair Ahmed Dogan criticized Mestan for siding with Turkey in the dispute and betraying national interests, which resulted in the the latter's dismissal after he had been pursuing rapprochement with Ankara since taking over the party in 2013 (after Dogan retired from active politics).
"[Turkish President] Erdogan extended a hand to Mestan, and he embraced it with both hands," the text goes on, in a reference to widespread comments on Turkey's alleged support for the Mestan, the way Ankara supposedly backed the National Freedom and Dignity Party (NPSD) set up by DPS co-founder Kasim Dal in 2012.
However, as Mestan is preparing to found "the third Turkish party" on February 27, Sunday, one should know it "will fail to go beyond the 4-percent threshold" to make it into the Bulgarian Parliament.
Ethnic Turkish expats are concerned, the text notes further. Bulgarian media outlets have repeatedly suggested it is the expats, who left Bulgaria during the assimilation policies of the so-called "Revival Process" against ethic Turks in the 1980s, that will form most of Mestan's electoral base. Others have accused the political project of possibly having "Islamist roots", but Mestan has denied both allegations.
The author also gives an account of the expulsion of diplomats both ways in the last few days. Reports emerged Sofia had expelled a Turkish diplomat working as an attach? to the Consulate General in Burgas, while earlier this week the First Secretary of the Bulgaria's Consulate General in Istanbul was declared "persona non grata".
Separately, BGNES wire service quotes another excerpt from the article reading: "It was only Bulgaria we [Turkey] had no problems with, now we are in crisis with Sofia."
It also cites another news source from Turkey, Gazeteport, according to which the Bulgarian Consul General to Istanbul, Angel Angelov, has also been expelled.
The Foreign Ministry in Bulgaria has said it will "not comment on these issues either now or in the future".
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