Bulgarian Cabinet meets in emergency sitting following attempted coup in Turkey

Bulgaria’s Government was holding an emergency sitting on July 16 to assess the latest developments in the wake of an attempted military coup in neighbouring Turkey.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported that heads of intelligence services briefed Prime Minister Boiko Borissov that no Bulgarian nationals were injured in the events. Turkish ambassador in Sofia Süleyman Gökçe was also scheduled to meet with Borissov, the report said.

After meeting Gökçe, Borissov said he had received re-assurances from the Turkish government that the border between the two countries would not “come under pressure”, BNR reported.

Earlier this morning, Borissov said in a Facebook post that he was kept briefed overnight, with the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and intelligence services in contact with their Turkish counterparts.

Borissov said that Bulgaria “always supported observing the laws and constitution of any country. There is a way to topple governments and that is through elections. Peace cannot be achieved through war and death”.

“We are prepared to respond and support every Bulgarian national currently in Turkey. At this time, we have no information about injured Bulgarians or casualties,” Borissov said.

Bulgaria’s President Rossen Plevneliev condemned the attempted coup attempt, saying in a statement that “we are following closely the situation in our neighbour and condemn any and all forms of violence and support the democratically elected institutions of the Republic of Turkey”.

“Turkey is a good neighbour and strategic partner of Bulgaria. For us, the stability and peace in Turkey is of key importance, as is observing human rights,” the statement said.

Borissov said that the government had “re-inforced the border with border police, military units and police keeping a close watch.”

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and armed forces chief of staff General Konstantin Popov were scheduled to travel to the Bulgarian-Turkish border to inspect the border crossings, the defence ministry said in a statement.

In his statement, Borissov said that Bulgaria was prepared to assist all Bulgarian nationals currently in Turkey and re-iterated the Foreign Ministry’s travel advisory, which recommended avoiding all travel to Turkey.

Border checkpoints with Turkey had been shut during the night, but had re-opened by noon on July 16, BNR said. Earlier reports said that the border crossings were still operating normally some time after the initial news that a coup was underway.

Flights between Sofia and Istanbul for July 16 have been cancelled, BNR reported, quoting Sofia Airport officials. Additionally, two charter flights to Antalya were also cancelled, but a flight from Antalya to Sofia, due to land in the afternoon, remained on the schedule, according the report.

Sofia Airport saw one diverted flight during the night, with a British Airways plane landing to refuel before returning to London.

BNR reported that many bus companies cancelled service, but some still carried out planned trips. Meanwhile, the train evening train from Sofia to Istanbul on July 16 was not cancelled and would depart on schedule, BNR said, quoting officials at the Sofia railway station.

(Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, left, speaks to the media after an early-morning briefing on July 16, flanked by Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov.)



The Sofia Globe staff

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