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Turkey Based NGO to Sue Bulgaria Over Election Obstacles

Turkey Based NGO to Sue Bulgaria Over Election Obstacles

28.03.2017 19:08 12 14 16 18 yazdır
Turkey-based NGO says it will go to court in Bulgaria over obstacles expat voters faced in Sunday's general election

The head of a Turkey-based NGO said on Tuesday his group would take legal action over alleged anti-democratic practices surrounding Sunday's Bulgarian general election.

Nedim Donmez, chairman of the Edirne Balkan Turks' Federation told Anadolu Agency they would firstly lodge papers with the Bulgarian courts but would take their case to the European Court of Human Rights if unsatisfied.

"We cannot tolerate restrictions on human rights," he said.

A former Ottoman territory, Bulgaria has a large Turkish minority of about 10 percent, according to official census figures. There is also a large number of Turkish-origin Bulgarian citizens living in Turkey. 

In last year's Bulgarian elections there were 140 ballot boxes in Turkey for Bulgarian citizens to vote.

However, in Sunday's poll the number of ballot boxes was reduced to 35, a move the Turkish Foreign Ministry said was intended to hinder ethnic Turkish Bulgarians from voting.

Donmez said that two days before the election Bulgarian officials decided that application forms would be completed in the rooms where ballot boxes were kept. He said this caused further problems.

While some Bulgarian citizens in Turkey know the Bulgarian language, many do not and had difficulties in completing these application forms.

There are around 200,000 Bulgarian or Bulgarian-Turkish dual citizens in Turkey eligible to vote, Donmez said.

He added that in this election approximately 30,000 people were able to take part in Turkey but in previous elections many more people were able to vote.

Donmez gave the example of the 2009 election where he said over 90,000 Bulgarian citizens in Turkey voted.

Border incident

Sunday's election -- the fifth time since May 2013 Bulgarians have gone to the polls -- took place amid tensions between Ankara and Sofia.

Disputes erupted over claims Turkey was favoring the Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance (DOST) coalition.

DOST, which means "close friend" in Turkish, generally has ethnic Turks or Muslims among its members.

On Friday, right-wing activists staged a demonstration in Bulgaria's Kapitan Andreevo border area to block expat Bulgarian voters living in Turkey from taking part in the voting process.

The demonstrators, many brandishing anti-Turkey banners and Bulgarian flags, blocked traffic at the border, forcing passengers from Turkey to disembark from buses and walk across the frontier on foot.

Last week's protests also drew a response from senior Turkish cabinet ministers. 


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