World Bulletin/News Desk
The new leader of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HÖH), Lütvi Mestan, has claimed that ethnic minorities should be given a “European minority status” to be able to integrate them into society, a new formula to switch from ethnic nationalism to community consciousness in multi-ethnic Balkan societies.
The idea of giving religious and ethnic minorities in the Balkans a European minority status is the recommendation of the former long-term leader of the party, Ahmet Doğan. Mestan said that this designation should be highlighted throughout Europe as a brand new concept for the integration of minorities.
“In all nation-states, especially in Southeastern Europe, namely the Balkans, there is a strong ethnocentrism and this stonewalls the integration process. This idea [ethnocentrism] does not consider the cultural differences between different ethnicities as [cultural] capital but as a threat to national interests. [On the contrary,] I claim that national interests will be threatened as long as there is no integration,” noted Mestan during an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman. He described using European minority status as a means to overcome the inability of Balkan states to create a successful integration mechanism.
Explaining further, Mestan stated that local community law would be considered first when evaluating the rights of the minorities and that this community law would serve to protect the rights of minorities under the term European minorities. Extending this as a legal status to the whole of Europe, Mestan said, would mean that minority rights in the region would not be left to the mercy of nation-states, nor be limited to a bilateral agreement with another state guaranteeing those rights.
Mestan added that even though HÖH was founded by the Turkish and Muslim population of Bulgaria, this does not mean that it is an ethnic-oriented party. “If we are a respected party, it is because we have an integration philosophy that includes protecting our identities,” noted Mestan, claiming that his party has always denounced revanchist and divisive policies for Bulgarian society.
In late January, the former leader of the party, Doğan escaped an assassination attempt during a party conference where he was to hand his party leadership position over to his deputy, Mestan.
Eyewitnesses said the assailant was about to point the gun at Doğan's head when he was captured by the guards. The 25-year-old attacker, identified as Oktay Hasanov Yenimehmedov from the Black Sea town of Burgas, who also carried two knives on his person at the time, was captured by the police right after the incident.
Turkey officially condemned the failed attempt on Doğan's life in a statement released by the Foreign Ministry.Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2013, 18:07