Bulgarian Turkish Expats 'Bulturk' to Bid for Bulgaria's Presidency

Diplomacy | July 6, 2011, Wednesday // 17:48|  views

"Bulturk", the organization of the Bulgarian Turks living in Turkey, intends to nominate its own candidate for President of Bulgaria in the elections in the fall.

Bulturk intends to nominate an ethnic Turk for the Bulgarian presidential elections scheduled for October 23, 2011, Focus news agency reported citing Nihat Dogu, a journalist from the southern Bulgarian city of Kardzhali.

Several hundred thousand of the so called Bulgarian Turks live as expats in Turkey. The majority of them fled Bulgaria in the late 1980s when the dictatorship of Todor Zhivkov and the Bulgarian Communist Party started an assimilation campaign known as the "Revival Process" or the "Regeneration Process", forcing ethnic Turks and ethnic Bulgarian Muslims to take Slavic-Christian names.

In the years after 1990, a tangible number of ethnic Bulgarian Turks are believed to have emigrated to Turkey in search of better economic opportunities.

Bulturk was set up as one of the organizations of Bulgarian Turks in Turkey. It was established in 2003, and has offices in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Izmir, and other places.

The Chair of Bulturk Rafet Murat has stated that the organization is still meeting with various political formations in Bulgaria, which is why it is not going to reveal its candidate for the time being.

"I can only tell you that he has a Turkish name. We are meeting with both the ruling party and the opposition, our aim is to find a consensus. Our candidate does not have anything to do with any political party, and his past is not burdened with political or financial intrigues," Murat is quoted as saying.

Asked if a candidate with Turkish-sounding name stands any chance of winning Bulgaria's presidential elections, Murat has replied that the elections are a democratic competition, and Bulturk would like to participate regardless of the prospects of their candidate.

Bulturk has traditionally been critical of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) and its leader and founder Ahmed Dogan. In the recent dissent in DPS in which Dogan's top aide Kasim Dal turned against him and was expelled from the party, followed by young MP Korman Ismailov, Bulturk spoke in Dal's support.

The some 300-400 000 Bulgarian Turks living in Turkey continue to hold Bulgarian citizenship, which entitles them to vote in Bulgarian elections; the overwhelming majority of their votes traditionally goes to the DPS party.

The so called "votes from Turkey" have raised a controversy in Bulgaria, leading especially nationalist formations to blame Turkey for meddling in Bulgaria's internal affairs through these votes, and to seek ways to limit their impact.

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Tags: 2011 elections, DPS, ethnic Turkish, Bulgarian Turks, Bulturk, turkey, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Rafet Murat, Bursa, Izmir, Ankara, Istanbul, Presidential elections


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