Turkish ambassador Hasan Ulusoy, at the centre of a controversy about his reported call to boost the teaching of Turkish in Bulgarian schools, has told the Foreign Ministry in Sofia that his words were “distorted” by the media.
Ulusoy was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on May 13 after the controversy erupted at the weekend, with critical comments by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova and several nationalist politicians.
With Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Ulusoy met Deyan Katarchev, head of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry’s South Eastern Europe directorate.
Ulusoy had been reported as having made the call on Bulgarian authorities to encourage the study of the Turkish language so as to aid an increase in Turkish investment in Bulgaria.
At the meeting at the Foreign Ministry, he was told that his statement was politically unacceptable and did not meet Bulgaria’s expectations regarding maintaining friendly and good neighbourly relations, the ministry said.
“It was emphasised that Turkish investments in Bulgaria could not be tied in any way with the study of Turkish language but should be based on economic logic.
“It was pointed out that Turkish investors should comply with the official language of Bulgaria and would be more appropriate to support the training of Bulgarian-language staff. At the same time, learning foreign languages in Bulgaria is a matter of free choice for every Bulgarian citizen, and the conditions are there,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Bulgaria’s expectations were expressed that Turkey would adhere to the fundamental principles on which the countries’ bilateral relations are based, namely good neighbourliness, equality, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, the statement said.
Ulusoy said his words were misinterpreted by the media.
He handed over the text of his speech, explaining that he did not make recommendations for obligatory learning of Turkish language by Bulgarian citizens.
He said that Turkey does not intend to intervene in any way in the domestic politics of the Republic of Bulgaria and in its activity it is guided entirely by the goal of developing friendly and mutually beneficial relations with Bulgaria, the Foreign Ministry statement said./ibna