Erdogan calls for fair, transparent elections in Bulgaria

AP News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2017 6:10 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized on Thursday what he described as "pressure" on ethnic Turks in Bulgaria ahead of elections in the country.

Addressing representatives of Balkans' migrant groups, Erdogan said he hoped for "fair and transparent" parliamentary elections there on Sunday.

Erdogan's comments came days after Bulgarian nationalists blocked three border checkpoints for several hours to prevent Bulgarian citizens living permanently in Turkey from crossing over to vote.

In response to Erdogan's comments, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said his country would not accept democracy lessons from Turkey.

"Bulgaria does not give, but also does not accept, lessons in democracy, especially from countries that do not observe the rule of law," Radev told reporters in Sofia.

"Each statesman must learn the history and geography lessons," Radev said.

Radev also noted that Bulgaria is a European country that goes by its own laws and not the emotions of others and added that elections in Bulgaria will be held smoothly.

Tension between Bulgaria and Turkey are running high in recent days over alleged support by Turkey to a pro-Ankara party.

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey's ambassador and recalled its ambassador from Ankara for consultations last week.

Bulgaria criticized Turkey, saying its officials were interfering in Bulgaria's internal affairs by calling on people to vote for a particular party.