Ex-DPS Head Mestan Urges Dialogue on Oligarchy with Bulgaria's 'PMs'Domestic | February 28, 2016, Sunday // 13:27| views
Lyutvi Mestan, former head of Bulgaria's DPS party. File photo, BGNES
Former DPS party chair Lyutvi Mestan has said he is ready for a "deep conversation" about the oligarchs that have dominated Bulgaria for years, but has added "Prime Ministers" should also be involved.
Mestan on Sunday did an interview with private bTV station after launching his political project, Democrats for Responsibility, Solidarity and Tolerance (DOST), a day earlier.
He stopped short of naming specific Prime Ministers who he thinks should be involved in a conversation on oligarchy in Bulgaria.
He admitted Delyan Peevski, a controversial lawmaker and media mogul, wields a significant influence on Bulgarian politics. Mestan headed the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), a predominantly ethnic Turk party, in the summer of 2013, when Peevski's appointment to the national security and counter-intelligence body DANS triggered nationwide protests.
However, he was dismissed as DPS leader and expelled from the party in December, after honorary chair Ahmed Dogan accused him of siding with Turkey in Ankara's spat with Moscow over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish Air Force.
In his interview with bTV Mestan reiterated he was determined to set up a "pro-NATO", "pro-EU", and "anti-oligarchic party".
He welcomed Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's move to halt a number of public tenders and praised him for realizing ties between some businesses and politicians cannot remain "hidden from the Bulgarian public."
He also argued that during his nearly three-year tenure at the helm of the DPS he had sought to dispel any doubts that the party was lobbying for "pro-Russian interests" and to clear it of its "image of an oligarchic party".
In Mestan's words, a "very well planned strategy" is in place to prevent the registration of the new party by portraying him as a "national traitor" in contrast to the "patriot", the latter being a clear reference to Dogan. The party is expected to be registered in April.
Some politicians, experts and media outlets have openly accused Mestan of launching DOST (the acronym also sounds and spells like a word for "friend" in Turkish) as a pro-Turkish, possibly even "pro-Islamic" party with ties to the government in Ankara, in a country where the Muslim minority that makes up some 10 percent of the population is considered largely secular.
Mestan denies the allegations, maintaining they are part of a smear campaign against him and disagrees there is any "interference of Ankara" in Bulgaria's domestic politics.
Earlie this week English-language Today's Zaman, citing publications in Bulgarian media, wrote that the son of Turkish President Erdogan, Bilal, had reportedly pledged USD 20 M in funds to DOST for the coming 20 months.
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