PM Erdogan warns Bulgaria against anti-Turkish rhetoric

Erdogan has telephoned his Bulgarian counterpart over a rising anti-Turkish discourse in Bulgaria.

PM Erdogan warns Bulgaria against anti-Turkish rhetoric

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has telephoned his Bulgarian counterpart over a rising anti-Turkish discourse in Bulgaria, sources close to the Turkish premier said Thursday.

"The rising anti-Turkish discourse led by certain extremist circles recently in Bulgaria and the form it has taken as actual harassment cause concern in Turkey," Erdogan was quoted to have told Boyko Borisov.

Sources told Anadolu news agency, "Erdogan said he attached utmost importance to Turkish-Bulgarian relations, adding that Turkey would exert any kind of effort to further improve ties between the two countries."

The Turkish premier said it was sad to see that there were endeavours to revoke certain rights and gains which the Turks had acquired over the years, adding that the latest instance of that was a proposal by the ATAKA Party for a referendum to call off the broadcast of a ten-minute news program in Turkish on Bulgaria's national television network.

"I am positive that as the ruling party you will take on an embracing attitude and contain such inciting activities," Erdogan said.

Borisov said on his part that the Turkish minority presented an opportunity to improve relations between Turkey and Bulgaria.

We are in full accord with you to make further progress in improving the situation of the Turkish minority's rights and freedoms. I will "exert any effort" in my power to over the broadcast of Turkish news program," Borisov said.

Backing?

However, media reports said Borisov "backed the referendum move" despite warnings.

Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov declared Wednesday PM of the controversial support. Parvanov said he suspected that a "large trap has been set for the Prime Minister" Boyko Borisov with the initiating of the debate.

The nationalist party ATAKA is an ally of Borisov's GERB party. In the 240-seat Bulgarian Parliament, GERB has 116 MPs, whereas Ataka has 21.

Bulgarian Turks long has suffered after the Ottoman rule.

Bulgarian Turks were forced to leave the country during the so-called "revival process" at the end of the 80s. A "revival process" launched by the late communist dictator Todor Zhivkov to forcibly assimilate Muslims culminated with a campaign to force them to change their names, and the exodus of over 300,000 ethnic Turks to neighbouring Turkey in 1989.

According to Amnesty International, at least 100 Muslims died in his four-month campaign to force them to change their names to Bulgarian, which banned the Turkish language in public. It also banned the wearing of headscarves and other Islamic customs such as circumcision and funeral rights.

Muslims make up about 12 percent of the Balkan country's 7.6 million people and they are native in European Union member-Bulgaria. Most are the descendants of ethnic Turks who arrived during five centuries of Ottoman rule that ended in 1878. Muslims and Christians lived alongside in a culture known as "komshuluk," or neighbourly relations during the Ottoman rule.



Agencies

Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2009, 10:55
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