European Liberals Slam Bulgaria Turkish News Referendum

Bulgaria in EU | December 17, 2009, Thursday // 19:53|  views

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European parliamentary group ALDE, has criticized the Bulgarian government for considering a referendum on the question of televised Turkish-language news. Photo by BGNES

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the third largest group in the European Parliament, condemned Bulgaria’s idea of holding a referendum on the TV Turkish news service.

Speaking in Strasbourg on Thursday, Verhofstadt, who represents the Alliance of Liberals and democrats for Europe (ALDE), denounced the proposal, saying "the Bulgarian government must see sense".

"Supporting Ataka's request for a national referendum on a matter of minority rights is inevitably going to favor the linguistic majority," he added.

He pointed out that, in his view, Bulgaria was endangering its international obligations, if a referendum were to be approved.

"This initiative risks putting Bulgaria at odds with fundamental European and international legal and political obligations governing the protection and respect for minorities and minority languages," he stated.

"Closure of this news program will inflame tensions within Bulgarian society and discredit the country's reputation in the international community as well as breaching the EU Treaty principle of non-discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and language," he concluded.

Following a formal request from the ALDE group,it was agreed that the subject would be added to the European Parliament's plenary agenda in January.

As reported by, Ataka has already obtained the necessary number of signatures to trigger a demand for a referendum. The final decision lies with the Bulgarian Parliament.

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Tags: European parliament, Bulgaria, Referendum, Ataka, Turkish language news, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE


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