Bulgarian nationalist Patriotic Front threatens to withdraw support for cabinet over ‘Turkish agent’ deputy minister

Nationalist coalition the Patriotic Front is considering withdrawing its support for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s cabinet because of the appointment of a deputy minister that PF co-leader Valeri Simeonov describes as a “Turkish agent”.

Simeonov, whose party signed up on November 6 to support Borissov’s centre-right coalition government, was referring to the November 11 appointment of Orhan Ismailov as deputy defence minister.

Ismailov is from the Freedom and Dignity party, part of the centre-right coalition Reformist Bloc which is the minority partner in the Borissov coalition cabinet. Led by Korman Ismailov, the party is a breakaway from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity and which is a particular bugbear for Bulgarian ultra-nationalists.

Simeonov, speaking to local media on November 18, denied that his Patriotic Front coalition had given a 10-day deadline for the withdrawal of Orhan Ismailov from the deputy minister’s post, saying that a decision on whether to withdraw support for the Borissov cabinet would be made the same day.

Simeonov, who leads the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party – a breakaway from ultra-nationalists Ataka – said that he would discuss the issue with his party’s PF coalition partner, Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO.

It was “national betrayal to appoint a Turkish agent to hold the post of deputy minister of defence. This is a mockery of the Bulgarian people,” Simeonov said.

Simeonov said that the PF had stated clearly before declaring support for the cabinet that they did not want representatives of the Freedom and Dignity party appointed to high levels of state power.

Reports linked Simeonov’s stance to a forthcoming December 6 congress of the PF, which is to include a leadership election, and which comes against a background of internal resistance to involvement in support for the coalition cabinet led by Borissov’s GERB party.

The PF has 19 MPs and its support in votes in Parliament is key to the governing coalition. Already, there are ructions in the Reformist Bloc, with tensions in that centre-right political coalition seen in some quarters as calling into question the long-term future of Bulgaria’s government.

(Photo, of Patriotic Front co-leader Valeri Simeonov: Archive)



The Sofia Globe staff

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