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News 09 Feb 18

Bulgarian Vice-PM Demands Greens MEP's Deportation

Rightwing politician calls for Ska Keller, German MEP and co-chair of the European Greens, to be declared persona non grata and deported to Turkey for her involvement in the campaign to save the Pirin National Park.

Martin Dimitrov
MEP Ska Keller, the object of Vice PM Valeri Simeonov's wrath Photo: Ska Keller MEP

Bulgarian Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov and his right-wing National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, NFSB, have called for the deportation of the German co-chair of the European Parliament's Green Party, Ska Keller.

She is currently in Bansko, Bulgaria, supporting environmentalists protesting against alleged threats by developers to the Pirin National Park.

The call for deportation and declaring the MEP persona non grata by the Foreign Ministry of the country comes in a declaration published on the NFSB website on Friday.

It was disseminated to the European Parliament, the German government and the Alliance 90/Greens EU party family.

“The NFSB protests against the participation of German MEP Keller in the nocturnal loitering in Sofia of political marginals under the guise of a call to 'Save Pirin', but whose real motive is to 'take power through lies,'” the party said.

The NFSB executive committee accused a "complacent" Bulgarian media of giving the floor to an “obviously inadequate”, “impudent and self-assured” Keller to “spread the well-known lies” of members of the Bulgarian Green Party.

The party demanded to know “from the height of which minaret, this Ska (what a name?!) who graduated the Sabanci university in Istanbul and serves the justice of a foreign country… and wants the Bulgarian sovereign government to change its position”.

The party was referring to the decision of Boyko Borissov's government to allow construction at the Pirin National Park.

The go-ahead has caused nationwide environmental protests, also backed from environmentalists abroad.

The nationalist party, which is a coalition partner to the GERB-led government as part of the United Patriots, said the Foreign Ministry should declare Keller persona non grata and deport her to the Kapikule border crossing with Turkey, as the cost of flight expenses to Germany would be misplaced.

Keller called the threat bizarre. “I have been an active politician for many years and I have never had something like this happening to me – either in any European country, or in other, non-EU states,” Keller told BIRN by telephone, describing the declaration as “really bizarre”.

“I believe it is important for them to respect their political opponents. They have their right to freedom of speech, but so do I,” the German MEP.

She travelled to Bansko on Friday to meet locals and discuss the situation with the Pirin National Park. “If they want to deport me, they should come and get me,” Keller said.

BIRN tried contacting the Prime Minister’s office for comment, but there was no immediate response.

Pirin is one of three national parks in Bulgaria - and greens fear the latest development permit will put the Unesco heritage site under severe pressure.

The government says the changes will only affect a small percentage of the park and that the popular ski resort at Bansko needs more ski lifts and other infrastructure.

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