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13:21, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
16:43, 27 February 2017 Monday

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Balkan Turks condemn Bulgarian party's candidate choice
Balkan Turks condemn Bulgarian party's candidate choice

Movement for Rights and Freedoms' decision to select Attack party candidates criticized

World Bulletin / News Desk

The party representing Bulgaria’s Turkish minority has come under fire for nominating two former members of the ultra-nationalist Attack party for next month’s general election.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) selected Slavi Binev, a former EU lawmaker for Attack, and Kamen Petkov, who quit the party in 2010, to stand for parliamentary seats.

While the DPS looks to the Muslim, Turkish and Roma communities for its support, Attack has been accused of racism and xenophobia.

Zurfettin Hacioglu, president of the Balkan Rumeli Turks Confederation, said the nominations were “the biggest insult” to Turkish and Muslim communities in Bulgaria.

“These people are nominated from the area where our Pomak brothers are living,” he said, referring to Bulgarian Muslims.

“Nominating former members of Attack, who are hostile to Turkish people, by the votes of Turkish people, is another way of saying to them ‘Do not vote for this political party’.”

Nedim Donmez, of the Edirne Balkan Turks Federation, also condemned the selection of Binev and Petkov.

“'These are the two parties that jointly serve others,” he told Anadolu Agency. “They are in an effort to create conflicts inside Turkey by paving way for divisions among Bulgarian citizens who had settled in Turkey after the 1989 migration.”

In 1989, Bulgaria’s Communist regime forced 360,000 Bulgarians of Turkish origin to migrate to Turkey. These people are able to vote in Bulgarian elections and Donmez called on them not to support “extreme racist Bulgarian nominees”.

Bulgarians will vote on March 26 in the third parliamentary election since 2013.

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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.