Senior Bulgarian Officials, Opposition Leader Take Strong Exception to Turkish Ambassador's Statement
107 POLITICS-P.M.-TURKISH AMBASSADOR-TURKISH LANGUAGE STUDY ampl
Senior Bulgarian Officials, Opposition Leader
Take Strong Exception to
Turkish Ambassador's Statement
Kurdjali, South Central Bulgaria, May 11 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and other senior Bulgarian government officials reacted strongly to a statement by Turkish Ambassador to Bulgaria Hasan Ulusoy, who said here on Saturday that the amount of Turkish investments in this country depends on the number of people who can write and speak Turkish and asked the Bulgarian authorities to make the study of that language at school more effective.
"I will convey a common desire of our businessmen investors, who want to create jobs both for Bulgarian citizens who have a command of Turkish and for Bulgarian citizens who do not have a command of Turkish," Ulusoy said at the inauguration of a new car parts plant of Turkey's Teklas company in the city on Saturday. "The more Bulgarian citizens who, in addition to Bulgarian, are able to speak and write Turkish well, the more this will encourage the influx of Turkish investments into the country," the diplomat argued, quoted on Bulgarian National Radio. "We count on the Bulgarian authorities for a more effective study of Turkish at school by Bulgarian citizens and above all by our compatriots," Ulusoy went on to say, according to www.dariknews.bg.
Approached by journalists for comment on the Ambassador's statement, Borissov answered that his understanding of the statement differs from the understanding of the media, but he will in any case call the Ambassador to account. "We are such great friends, we have done so many things together. On a day like that [the Feast Day of Sts Cyril and Methodius, inventors of the Slav letters], you can't tell a country to make compulsory the study of a language, considering that in Parliament we have determined clearly and exactly that everybody is free to study Turkish in whatever way they wish," the Prime Minister stressed, adding that "Bulgarians in Bulgaria also study English, German and Chinese, but the Chinese raised the same issue: about language proficiency."
Borissov said Teklas Bulgaria CEO Raul Danon had told him that the group's plants in Bulgaria are experiencing certain difficulties finding staff and especially people who can write and speak Turkish for positions in the company's administration.
Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva has directed her staff to summon the Turkish Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Monday and demand explanations of his words calling on the Bulgarian State to encourage the study of Turkish as a foreign language, Zaharieva's Ministry said in a press release on Saturday.
"The Ambassador's words have a disturbing ring to them because the Bulgarian Government has never impeded the freedom of foreign language study. Turkish can be studied at school along with English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Romanian, Russian and Hebrew," the Foreign Ministry said. "In this connection, we emphasize that such a statement by the Ambassador of a neighbouring and partner country like Turkey does not live up to the expectations of the Republic of Bulgaria of the way
in which our good-neighbourly and friendly relations should develop," the press release reads.
Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov described the Turkish diplomat's statement as "provocative". "If the price of Turkish investments in this
country is the assertion of national minorities, a revision of our Constitution, disturbance of ethnic peace, etc., we will tell Turkey: 'Yes, but no thanks," Karakachanov wrote in a Facebook post, quoted by his nationalist VMRO Party (part of the power-sharing United Patriots coalition) in a press release.
"Like prominent Bulgarian statesman Dragan Tsankov, who reacted to Russia's aggressive attempts to impose its policy in Bulgaria at the end of the 19th century, I will clearly say: 'We want neither your honey nor your sting'," the Deputy PM commented.
In a Facebook post, opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova described Ulusoy's proposals for compulsory study of Turkish in Bulgaria as "absolutely unacceptable" and
yet another attempt to interfere into Bulgaria's internal affairs." Quoted by her party in a press release, Ninova
stressed that on Saturday Bulgarians celebrate the lifework of Cyril and Methodius, their alphabet and language, and their contribution to the other Slav peoples. IG/LG