Turkey Never Sought to Interfere in Bulgaria's Politics - Ambassador

Diplomatic Channel | February 20, 2016, Saturday // 12:17|  views

Turkish Ambassador to Sofia Suleyman Gokce has refuted claims that his country has pressured Bulgarian politicians into taking sides.

Ankara "has never asked any Bulgarian politician to take sides with regard to another political or publicly important figure in Bulgaria," he told private national bTV station on Saturday.

Ambassador Gokce's comments come against the background of statements by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who last year said Turkish authorities had tried to push him into choosing a side in the conflict within the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party that raged around Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Lyutvi Mestan was removed as leader and expelled from the predominantly ethnic Turk party after DPS honorary chair Ahmed Dogan accused him of betraying national interest by siding with Turkey in its dispute with Russia over the downed Su-24 fighter-bomber.

Borisov then said both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called him, asking him to intervene in favour of Mestan, who in the meantime launched a new political party.

On Saturday, however, Ambassador Gokce fervently denied any suggestions he or any other Turkish diplomats or politicians could have been sources of pressure on either the government or the DPS itself.

He stressed that Turkey had proved itself as a "neighbor and a good friend, but also an ally in NATO and a partner in the European Union".

His Excellency also said he could neither comment nor deny claims that Dogan and controversial DPS lawmaker Delyan Peevski had been barred from entering Turkey. Reports appeared in a Turkish newspaper considered close to the country's government earlier in February. There has been no official confirmation from Ankara as of Saturday, February 20.

Gokce also made clear Mestan's new party, DOST (Democrats for Unity, Solidarity, and Tolerance) was not "born" in the Turkish Embassy in Sofia.

Some media outlets have claimed DOST, a word also meaning "friend" in Turkish, is a "pro-Turkish" party, pointing to the "rapprochement" between the DPS and Ankara launched under the term of Mestan as head of he party between 2013 and 2016.

But Gokce explained: "There is no media oulet I believe, even the best-known offices and newspapers in the world." He added "every media outlet... has its subjective point of view" and that "whatever is said, broadcast or published, always represents a particular point of view. Readers buy them because they reflect their own view of the world."

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Tags: Suleyman Gokce, Lyutvi Mestan, Ahmed Dogan, turkey, DPS, Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov


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