Bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Turkey cannot depend on a political crisis in one or another party or the actions of one or another Bulgarian or Turkish politician, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said on January 6, referring to the recent uproar around the deposed leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Lyutvi Mestan.
Mestan was axed as the leader of the MRF, the opposition party that is led and supported mainly by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, on December 24 after founder and honorary president Ahmed Dogan publicly criticised as a “gaffe” Mestan’s parliamentary statement on Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber near Syrian airspace.
Amid the drama of his ousting, at one point Mestan and his spouse “took shelter” in the Turkish embassy in Sofia, while Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has alleged that Turkey’s president and prime minister both sought to pressure him to take Mestan’s side. Several observers have interpreted the ructions in the MRF as a result of a conflict between interests aligned to, respectively, Russia and Turkey within the party.
Mitov, in a television interview, emphasised that it was important for Bulgaria to maintain relations with Turkey, which he described as too important to depend on the fate or the actions of one or another politician.
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