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Bulgarian PM Borissov backs Turkey’s EU integration February 3, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Bulgaria supports reforms in Turkey and its desire to join the European Union, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told a joint news conference with his counterpart in Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Borissov issued a similar message the following day, January 30 2010, at a meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, the spiritual leader of most of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

On the first day of his two-day visit, Borissov held talks with Erdogan, which produced an agreement to accelerate work on the Nabucco gas pipeline project, Bulgarian-language media said.

Borissov told journalists that he had never seen anyone speak about Nabucco with an enthusiasm matching that of Erdogan, and said that he would convey this message to the EU in Brussels so that the bloc could try to end the long delay on the project.

Replying to a question, Borissov – in a reference to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the party led and supported mainly by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent – said that Bulgaria needed no political parties to act as intermediaries in its relations with Turkey.

Turkish daily Zaman said that during Borissov’s visit, the issue of Bulgaria’s claim against Turkey for compensation for Bulgarians forced out of Turkey in 1913 had been raised.

The newspaper said that Bulgaria and Turkey had agreed that the issue should be resolved through co-operation rather than confrontation.

Some weeks ago, there was tension between Sofia and Ankara when Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s minister for Bulgarians abroad, made public comments about the issue, leading to Borissov publicly instructing him not to speak about it.

Borissov also was asked about the idea that he initially backed, of holding a national referendum on the once-a-day special Turkish-language bulletins on public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television.

There was controversy in Bulgaria and abroad about the idea, long campaigned for Bulgaria’s ultra-nationalist party Ataka.

In Turkey on January 29, Borissov – who already had backed down publicly from the idea — said in reply to the question that the proposal for a referendum had been dropped for the sake of good relations between the peoples of Bulgaria and Turkey.

At the same time, according to Bulgarian media reports, Borissov said that he had asked Turkey to prevent any interference from within its borders in Bulgaria’s domestic politics.

The visit saw the signing of an agreement on diversification of natural gas supplies by the energy ministers of the two countries.

Bulgaria and Turkey also have agreed on opening two new ferry services, between Varna and Samsun and between Varna and Zonguldak, and agreed on increased quotas for freight transport permits.

The two countries also agreed on extending the volume of flights at the airports of Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas – on the Bulgarian side – and Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa in Turkey.

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