World Bulletin / News Desk
Friday's blockade of a group of Turkish reporters and Turkey-resident Bulgarian voters at the EU country’s border was "unacceptable," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said.
"It is against democracy, neighborliness and the good relations between us," he added.
Speaking in a live interview on Turkish television late on Friday, Kurtulmus said:
"Some militants and far-right Bulgarian circles are preventing our citizens [from voting]. Apparently, it is not an official blockade and practice of Bulgaria."
However, he added it could be a civilian move supported by the country's “deep state”.
Earlier on Friday, right-wing activists staged a demonstration in Bulgaria’s Kapitan Andreevo area -- a resumption of protests mounted on Wednesday.
Around 50 members of the right-wing United Patriots coalition protested about expat Bulgarian voters living in Turkey taking part in Sunday’s general election.
The demonstrators, many brandishing anti-Turkey banners and Bulgarian flags, blocked traffic at the border, forcing passengers from Turkey to disembark from buses and walk across the frontier on foot.
Also on Friday, three journalists -- including Anadolu Agency staff -- were prevented from entering the country.
Kurtulmus called on Bulgaria to bring the situation to an end and to "ensure that our citizens can go to the polls in peace".
"That is by the very nature of neighborliness and amity."
A former Ottoman territory, Bulgaria has a large Turkish minority of about 10 percent, according to official census figures.
Tensions between Bulgaria and Turkey recently escalated over claims Ankara is interfering in the election by favoring the Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance (DOST) coalition.
Bulgarian citizens are getting ready to vote in the country's third parliamentary election since 2013.
Bulgaria has also issued a new law limiting the number of ballot boxes for Bulgarians living in Turkey to 35 -- for an estimated 500,000 expat residents -- a move the Turkish Foreign Ministry said was intended to hinder ethnic Turkish Bulgarians from voting.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a phone conversation with his Bulgarian counterpart Radi Naydenov over the issue, diplomatic sources said.
The Turkish minister voiced his expectation that the Bulgarian authorities would take the necessary precautions to avoid such incidents again, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Mart 2017, 10:12