Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation, in a ruling on July 29, consented to the official registration of former Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) leader Lyutvi Mestan’s new DOST party, overturning an earlier rejection by the Sofia City Court.
Mestan formed DOST after being ousted as MRF leader and from all party posts and membership by MRF founder Ahmed Dogan, who had described Mestan’s public backing of Turkey in Ankara’s late 2015 dispute with Russia as a “gaffe”.
Mestan currently sits in Parliament as a backbencher, along with a handful of MPs who followed him out of the MRF.
The Supreme Court of Cassation rejected Sofia City Court’s reasons for refusing to register DOST, which had included an objection to the Bulgarian-language abbreviation of the party’s name having the meaning of a Turkish word, “friendship”. Sofia City Court also said that DOST had an ethnic basis because most of the names on its founding documents were Turkish.
The Supreme Court said that the lower court’s finding that DOST would have an ethnic or religious basis, which would be in contradiction to Bulgarian law on the registration of political parties, was “merely hypothetical”.
Nothing in the documentation and statutes of DOST provided a reason to assume that the party was founded on the basis of an ethnic or religious group, closed to people, values and idea outside such group, the Supreme Court said.
Speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, Mestan welcomed the Supreme Court of Cassation decision, saying that it rehabilitated Bulgaria’s credibility regarding the rule of law and that in Bulgaria, an EU country, the constitution and laws applied equally to all – a feeling that the Sofia City Court decision had managed to discredit, he said.