ANALYSIS 20 Mar 17

Turkey’s Hand in Bulgarian Election Angers Sofia

Observers link Ankara’s blatant interference in Bulgaria’s election to Turkey’s own upcoming constitutional referendum.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofiaa
Turkish Minister of Labour and Social Security Mehmet Muezzinoglu called on people to vote for the DOST coalition. Photo: Anaadolu Agency

Ahead of an early parliamentary election on March 26, Bulgaria has raised concerns that its powerful neighbour is trying to influence the result in favour of DOST, a recently formed ethnic-Turkish dominated party that some call the Turkish President’s “Trojan horse” in Bulgaria.

Ognyan Gerdjikov, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, on March 17 said Bulgaria had taken measures to counter Turkey moves to back “a certain political party” - referring indirectly to DOST - and said such interference was not “fair play”.

He said that in all elections since the transition to democracy in 1991, Turkey had attempted to influence the vote both covertly and openly.

Gerdjikov’s comments came after Turkish officials openly invited voters to cast votes for DOST, in an attempt to divert supporters from more traditional Turkish representatives in Bulgaria that are now estranged from the policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Experts say Ankara’s move and subsequent diplomatic tensions could be the latest attempt by Erdogan to create tension abroad and produce “foreign enemies” ahead of a crucial April 16 referendum on giving him more power. 

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