Bulgarian PM Disciplines Turkey at Balkan Meeting in New York

Diplomacy | September 24, 2010, Friday // 16:10|  views

Bulgarian PM Borisov, pictured here at the UN General Assembly, is reported to have snubbed Turkey during a special dinner hosted by Turkish President Gul in New York City. Photo by Council of Ministers

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's behavior at a Balkan leaders' dinner in New York City has been construed as a demonstration snubbing Turkey's "dominant role" in the region.

Borisov was one of the top guests of a lavish dinner Thursday hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

The dinner was attended by some two 200 elite guests from the Balkans and the USA, including the Presidents of Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia; the Foreign Ministers of Romania, Greece, Croatia; the Governor of New York; and numerous businesspeople from the USA and Turkey, reported the special correspondent of the Bulgarian paper Trud Daily.

It cites a diplomatic source as saying that the event was extremely exuberant and about three times as luxurious as a similar reception hosted by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is taken to be a demonstration of Turkey's political and economic might.

Each of the present Balkan leaders was expected to make a speech. According to the report, Turkey's President Gul was late, and his arrival interrupted the speech already in progress of one of the Balkan leaders. Gul's appearance is said to have caused "an euphoria" and wild applause, with the Macedonian President George Ivanov and the Albanian PM Sali Berisha rushing to hug him.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov, however, is reported to have been the only one of the leaders who did not rise to welcome the President of Turkey.

"Walking between the tables, Gul saw that I was sitting down. He probably understood that this demonstration on part of Turkey is not appropriate for a meeting of equals, and came specially to shake my hand," Borisov told the Trud Daily.

After this initial confusion, Borisov's speech was moved earlier on the list, and he spoke right after the Governor of the state of New York.

As in his speech before the UN General Assembly, the Bulgarian Prime Minister first greeted all Bulgarians with their recent national holiday, September 22, 1908, the day when vassal Bulgaria wrested its independence from Ottoman Turkey.

After that, he addressed all Balkan nations that are still not members of the EU, promising them support.

"You have a very long and hard road ahead of you but it will be even harder for you when you join the EU. I am ready to help you," Borisov declared.

"The cooperation and integration within the Euro-Atlantic structures is our major priority as responsible and strategic partners," he told all Balkan leaders.

After the end of his speech, the Bulgarian PM is said to have caused another surprise by going directly to Turkish President Gul, and telling him he had "more important business." Thus, he left behind his untouched dinner and Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, who remained to represent Bulgaria at the reception.

Turkey's President is reported to have hugged Borisov goodbye and to have thanked him explicitly for his attendance, while also saying the two will meet up again during his upcoming visit to Sofia.

The entire behavior of the Bulgarian Prime Minister during the Turkey-hosted reception is believed to have been a demonstration against Turkey's power and influence that the lavish dinner was supposed to promote in the first place.

"It must be known that we all must meet as equals in the meetings of Balkan leaders the way we, the EU leaders, meet as equals in Brussels. Our friendship in the Balkans must be founded on the principle of equality," Borisov has commented.

Sources from the protocol of the PM are cited as saying that representatives of the other "Slavic countries in the Balkans" were constantly sounding out if Borisov will attend the meeting.

After Borisov left, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov had a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, according to the special correspondent of another Bulgarian daily, 24 Chasa.

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Tags: Governor of New York, New York, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, kosovo, Croatia, Romania, greece, Sali Berisha, George Ivanov, FYROM, Albania, macedonia, Ahmet Davutoglu, Abdullah Gul, Turkish President, turkey, Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, Balkans, greece, UN, UN General Assembly, USA


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