Bulgarian nationalist Patriotic Front’s mixed messages on continued support for government

Bulgarian nationalist Patriotic Front (PF) co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov said that the front continues to support the government, while the same morning the other co-leader, Valeri Simeonov, said that a decision on the issue was still pending.

The statements by the two co-leaders in separate interviews on November 25 came several days after Simeonov said that the PF might withdraw its support for Boiko Borissov’s centre-right coalition cabinet over the appointment of Orhan Ismailov as deputy defence minister.

Simeonov has described Ismailov as the “agent of a pro-Turkish party” and a possible threat to Bulgaria’s national security.

Speaking on November 25 to Nova Televizia, Karakachanov, leader of PF constituent party VMRO, said that the PF continued to support the government and “there was no ultimatum”.

“We asked for a conversation with the Prime Minister and we got one,” Karakachanov said, referring to talks held last week between himself and Simeonov and Borissov.

Karakachanov said that the PF protest against the appointment of Ismailov was a question of principle.

“Incompetent commentators said that the PF had reacted against Ismailov just because of his name,” Karakachanov said, referring to criticisms that the nationalist formation’s real problem with Ismailov was his ethnic Turkish descent. “That does not correspond to the truth.”

According to Karakachanov, it was unacceptable that Ismailov was a representative of a party (a reference to a member party of the centre-right Reformist Bloc, minority partner in the cabinet) that its leader, Korman Ismailov, had said “boasted the support of the Turkish government”.

“We worry that in this situation there is a party that is close to the policy of neo-Ottomanism of (Turkish president Recep Tayyip) Erdogan. If Mr Ismailov came out and said that they departed from this policy, the discussion would be completely different,” Karakachanov said.

Simeonov, interviewed on November 25 by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, said that he would discuss the appointment of Orhan Ismailov as deputy minister of defence with Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev.

Earlier reports, some days ago, said that talks between Simeonov and Nenchev on the issue had been postponed.

Simeonov said that the PF would announce its final decision on whether or not to continue to support the government after hearing the official position of the Prime Minister.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Borissov said that he had no intention of withdrawing Orhan Ismailov from the post.

Simeonov said that the PF considered the deputy defence minister a potential threat to national security because he “owed much of his career” to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The MRF is led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity.

According to Simeonov, Ismailov could pass on information to Turkish intelligence services.

As to Borissov, Simeonov said that 24 hours could pass and the Prime Minister would change his stance on the matter.



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292