Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party-ruled government’s poor international relations have taken another blow as it and Bulgaria expelled their diplomats from their respective countries.
Turkey retaliated to Sofia’s decision to declare Turkish attaché Ugur Emiroglu “persona non grata” by expelling Bulgarian diplomat Zornitsa Petrova Apostolova, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported on Tuesday.
“There is no doubt Turkish diplomat Ugur Emiroglu, who was declared persona non grata in Bulgaria, has been carrying out tasks connected with the Turkish intelligence,” said General Kircho Kirov, former director of the Bulgarian National Intelligence Service, speaking to Bulgaria’s Radio Focus.
Kirov said Turkey’s intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Organization, sought to establish a base for agents in Bulgaria. “It aims at reviving the neo-Ottomanism in a new modern way,” he said.
Valeri Simeonov, co-chairman of the Rightist Patriotic Front, told Radio Focus Turkish intelligence was working with the local Muslim community.
“Ugur Emiroglu is one of the narrowly profiled agents of the Turkish intelligence who work in the field of religious activities.
He was mufti in Bursa, Trabzon, Gulhane and Strasbourg,” said Simeonov.
Sunni Turkey’s relations are tense with the Shi’ite Iranian axis that includes Syria. Relations with Syria ally Russia tanked when Turkey downed a Russian jet last November.
Ankara’s relations with Israel are poor though there are rumors of a possible rapprochement.
Relations with Europe are also tension filled mainly due to the latest refugee crisis.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s ruling AK Party remains determined to forge a new constitution and a cross-party parliamentary commission, which collapsed last week after the opposition walked out, should continue work, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.
The main opposition party in Turkey, The Republican People’s Party, pulled out of the commission meant to draft the new constitution, protesting attempts by the AK to strengthen the role of the presidency.
Separately, former Turkish president Abdullah Gul and ex-foreign minister Yasar Yakis, both from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party were removed from the list of the party’s founders after criticizing the president, Today’s Zaman, a Turkish news site reported on Monday, quoting a report by news portal haberdar.com.Reuters contributed to this report.