Borisov Shields Serbian PM from Bulgarian Protesters

Diplomacy | February 21, 2011, Monday // 17:22|  views

Several hundred people rallied in downtown Sofia in protest of the way Serbia treats the ethnic Bulgarians populating its border areas. Photo by BGNES

The press briefing of the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Serbia was canceled Monday afternoon apparently as a result of the rally of several hundred Bulgarians angry over Serbia's recent obstruction of the remembrance of Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski.

Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetcovic, arrived Monday on an official visit to Bulgaria on the invitation of his counterpart Boyko Borisov.

The visit triggered strong reaction in Bulgaria among the various nationalist formations. They asked Borisov to cancel it over the February 18 Serbian police ban of Bulgarians to organize in the Serbian town of Bosilegrad, populated by ethnic Bulgarians, a march and a ceremony in honor of the 138th year since the hanging of Bulgaria's national hero and revolutionary Vasil Levski (1837-1873), the most important Bulgarian freedom-fighter against the Ottoman Turkish Empire, known as the Apostle of Freedom.

Serbia's obstruction of the remembrance of Levski by the ethnic Bulgarian minority in the country led to strong reactions not just by the "nationalists on duty" but also by the mainstream Bulgarian press and the general public. Members of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia were active participants in the rally.

The formal announcement of the press office of the Bulgarian government stated that the press briefing of Borisov and Cvetkovic was canceled because of "the numerous meetings on the agenda of the prime ministers."

The Borisov-Cvetkovic briefing was supposed to take place late Monday afternoon just as several hundred outraged protesters were outside the Council of Ministers meeting in downtown Sofia with demands ranging from a formal apology by Serbia, to vetoing Serbia's EU membership, and reincorporating the so called "Western Outlands", the Bulgarian-populated regions ceded to Serbia as a result of World War I, back into Bulgaria.

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Tags: PM, Boyko Borisov, Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetcovic, Vasil Levski, Bosilegrad, VMRO, Ataka, VMRO-BND, VMRO-NIE, nationalists, Western Outlands, Treaty of Neuilly, Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, former Yugoslavia, Serbia


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