Bulgarian Turk Party Launches Complaint

06 November 2008 Sofia – Bulgaria’s ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedom party has complained to the European People’s Party in Brussels about recent comments made by the Mayor of Sofia.

The party is complaining over alleged remarks made by Boyko Borissov, the Mayor of Sofia and the leader of the opposition GERB party, in an interview with bTV, where he said he fully supported the ‘events’ of the late 1980s by then communist leader Todor Zhivkov, which forced ethnic Turks to adopt Christian names and abandon their Muslim faith.

The deputy leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedom, Lyutvi Mestan told Sofia daily Dnevnik that “such statements are completely out of place and in total disregard of the values of all democratic European parties.”

He added, “there should be a harsh reaction not only from the Movement for Rights and Freedom but all other Bulgarian and European parties against it.”

He said that it was deeply regrettable that after all these years of democracy in Bulgaria, there were still predominant strong anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim sentiments in Bulgarian politics.

Last week in an interview with Bulgarian National Television, Borissov said all newborn children in Bulgaria should be given Christian Bulgarian first names, but they could retain their father’s family names, regardless of their ethnic background.

His comments drew outrage from President Georgy Parvanov, Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev together with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Earlier Borisov, whose party currently tops opinion polls ahead of next summer’s parliamentary elections, claimed the Movement for Rights and Freedoms would raise ethnic tensions in a bid to tighten its control over ethnic Turks hence picking up more votes in the parliamentary elections.

This comment was rebuffed by Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader, Ahmed Dogan.

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