The leaders of both Bulgarian political parties on the eve of Sunday’s parliamentary elections warned against any “interference” by Turkey in the election campaign with the country’s large Turkish-speaking minority.
“We are categorically opposed to the interference of a foreign country in our internal affairs,” said Kornelia Ninova, head of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (PSB) in an interview with AFP.
She denounced as “open interference” the voting instructions of senior Turkish officials to the Turkish minority in Bulgaria.
Sofia accuses Ankara of supporting the new Turkish minority party Dost (“friend” in Turkish). This minority has about 700,000 people, out of a total population of 7.4 million in Bulgaria, and some 60,000 Turkish citizens with Bulgarian citizenship vote in Turkey. “This interference is unacceptable,” echoed Boïko Borissov, former prime minister and head of the conservatives (Gerb) questioned by AFP. He nevertheless calls for “diplomacy” with Turkey, which borders on Bulgaria.
A new Turkish-speaking group in Bulgaria, Dost, supported by Ankara, aims to compete with the traditional party of the Bulgarian Turkish minority, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MDL) with the reserved attitude towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan . The MDL is the third formation of the outgoing parliament.
The Socialists and Conservatives are given the elbow-to-elbow before the Sunday elections and may find it difficult to find a majority. The legislative elections follow the resignation of Mr Borissov in mid-term in November after a failure of his presidential candidate against a candidate supported by the Socialists Roumen Radev.
Bulgaria is traditionally one of the most Russian-speaking countries in the European Union and the new head of state is calling for a rebalancing of relations between Sofia and Moscow, without calling into question the alignment of the country with the EU and NATO.
A victory of the Socialists would reinforce this rapprochement. The PSB leader reiterated to AFP his opposition to EU sanctions against Russia “which do not produce the desired political effect.” “Bulgaria and the EU must resume normal dialogue with Russia,” she added. She said she was ready to vote against the renewal of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia because of the Ukrainian conflict if her party came to power.
The European Union links the lifting of sanctions to compliance with the Minsk peace accords on Ukraine. “The sanctions will continue as long as the Minsk peace accords are not respected,” Mr. Borissov told AFP.
“As a member of the European family and loyal member of NATO, we will firmly abide by our commitments” in this regard, he added.
Stéphane © armenews.co