Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 12:44 GMT

Bulgarian leader dumped for backing Ankara in spat with Moscow

Publisher Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Publication Date 25 December 2015
Cite as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Bulgarian leader dumped for backing Ankara in spat with Moscow, 25 December 2015, available at: [accessed 24 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

December 25, 2015

Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party expelled its leader on December 24 because he took the side of Turkey in Ankara's diplomatic spat with Moscow over a downed Russian fighter jet.

Lyutvi Mestan was ousted as the leader of the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms for making a parliamentary speech backing Turkey after it shot down the Russian jet on its border with Syria at the end of November, triggering the row with Moscow.

Bulgaria, while a member of NATO along with Turkey, in the past was allied with Moscow and remains heavily dependent on Russia for energy.

The Turkish party founder, Ahmed Dogan, pushed for Mestan's ouster, cautioning against taking sides.

But Mestan defended his speech, saying there was no reason to keep placating Moscow.

"Bulgaria's national interest has been connected with the EU and NATO for years now, and not with Russia," he said.

The Turkish party regularly wins about 13 percent in national polls thanks to Bulgaria's ethnic-Turkish minority. It has long been a key player in Bulgarian politics.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Link to original story on RFE/RL website

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