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29/07/2016

Bulgaria expels Turkish diplomat for conducting Islamist activity

Central Europe

Bulgaria expels Turkish diplomat for conducting Islamist activity

The Alexandre Nevski memorial church was built after the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78, which liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. [Georgi Gotev]

Bulgaria has declared a Turkish diplomat working at the Consulate General in Burgas persona non-grata, the Bulgarian press reported on Sunday (21 February).

A government source said the Turkish diplomat carried out activities which breach the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relation.

While he was tasked with working in social affairs, most of his activity was in the religious sphere, according to the diplomat.

Emiroglu worked as an imam in Turkey prior to being sent to Bulgaria, and “diplomats” reportedly deem his current religious activity in Bulgaria incompatible with his diplomatic status.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry declined to comment on the reports, “either now or in the future”, which it said is in line with diplomatic practice in such situations.

In January, a Socialist lawmaker submitted an inquiry to Foreign Affairs Minister Daniel Mitov to ask about the “status of Turkish diplomat Ugur Emiroglu”, accusing him of interference in domestic political and religious affairs.

According to the Bulgarian parliament website, no answer has been given to the question so far.

The development is futher proof of growing tensions between Bulgaria and its largest southern neighbour, Turkey.

Last December, Lyutvi Mestan, the leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party, was ousted from his post, for having brought his political force closer to Turkey’s ruling AKP party, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Bulgarian politician dumped for siding with Turkey

The leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party has been ousted from his post and expelled from the party yesterday (24 December), officially for declaring support for Turkey in its row with Moscow over the downing of a Russian warplane.

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In the meantime, Mestan founded another party – Dost, meaning “friend” in Turkish, which aims at undermining the DPS party (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) which represents ethnic Turks in Bulgaria.

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