Bulgaria’s foreign ministry told Turkey on Tuesday (13 March) that internationally agreed borders cannot be changed, reacting to a statement by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said on Sunday the Bulgarian city of Kardzhali finds itself “in the spiritual boundaries of Turkey”.
Addressing a local congress of his AKP party in the city of Sakarya, Erdoğan made reference to Bulgarian Turks living in Turkey.
Bulgarian language website Haberbg.net quoted Erdoğan as saying: “From this magnificent place I personally want to congratulate my brothers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Western Thrace, Crimea, Bulgaria and Romania.
“We send our greetings to all the victims and oppressed brothers of ours in Sarajevo, Skopje, Xanthi, Komotini, Kardzhali and Mostar. We share our cordiality with these brothers whose souls and eyes are turned to Turkey, for those who pray for the success of Turkey.
“Every time I say it – these cities are physically located in the borders of other countries, but they are part of our spiritual boundaries. The meaning of Turkey does not fit within 780,000 kilometers. The half of our hearts are in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Trabzon, Antalya, Izmir, and the other half is Aleppo, Kirkuk, Jerusalem, Sandzak and Bukhara.”
Turkey’s nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire is seen by pundits as a plan to expand territorially, especially if the country loses territories as a result of the likely emergence of a Kurdish state. Such a scenario, without any doubt, is highly explosive.
Bulgaria’s foreign ministry published the following statement:
“On the occasion of the comment by the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referring to Kardzhali, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria notes:
– any country with a rich and long history could claim that its spiritual and cultural borders go beyond the physical ones;
– if political rhetoric in individual countries opts for some reason to go back to the past, it can almost always outline boundaries that are different from the present ones;
– In fact, today’s state borders have been established by international treaties, recognised by all states and not subject to doubt or revision. Bulgaria and the Republic of Turkey, enjoying excellent bilateral relations, are no exception to these treaties.”
Erdoğan’s statement has the potential to upset the efforts of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to host a “leaders’ meeting” between Erdoğan and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Junker, in Varna on 26 March.
The summit was basically agreed until Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades convinced his colleagues at the last EU summit to make a planned “leaders’ meeting” with Erdoğan in Varna conditional on stopping “illegal violations” in the Cypriot economic zone.