BURGAS, Bulgaria (Novinite)–Turkey’s government declined to sign a EU-funded cooperation agreement with Bulgaria because of the decision of the city council in the Black Sea city of Burgas to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The funds blocked by Turkey under the PHARE Trans-border Cooperation Program amount to 32 million euros, the Bulgarian private TV channel BTV reported. 12 million of the said amount is for the 2007-2009 period.
The agreement was supposed to be signed on March 6 by the district governors of the Bulgarian Burgas District and the Turkish Edirne District, but the meeting was canceled by the Turkish side.
"It is not within the authority of the Burgas City Council to take decisions on political matters, especially with regard to this issue as there is no consensus between Turkey and Armenia over it, declared Turkey’s General Consul in the city of Burgas on Sunday. "The interference by a third party will not be of any help."
The Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov also received a letter from the Edirne District Governor Saturday regarding Burgas City Council’s decision to recognize the Armenian genocide stating.
"This decision is offensive and we denounce it. Until it is canceled we will discontinue all social, cultural, and economic contracts with your district," the letter said.
Mayor Nikolov, who is from Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov’s GERB party, expressed his surprise over Turkey’s sharp reaction. He said the City Council was going to discuss the matter during its next session.
The Burgas City Council is dominated by members of the extreme right Ataka Party, and of the GERB party. On February 28 it voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, and declared April 24 a day of remembrance.
Last week, members of the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party of former Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov tabled a proposal for recognizing the Armenian Genocide to the city council in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.
Bulgaria’s parliament has rejected similar motions by the opposition several times, because the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms is a junior partner in the governing coalition.