Lyutvi Mestan, Chair of the Bulgarian ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), has vowed to appeal the fine he was imposed by the local election administration in Sliven for addressing his constituents in Turkish. The fine was imposed Friday by the Regional Electoral Commission in the southeastern city of Sliven on a tip-off from center-right party GERB reporting that Mestan had addressed voters in Turkish during an election campaign rally in the village of Yablanovo on May 5. Yablanovo Mayor Dzhemal Choban was also penalized by the Regional Electoral Commission in Sliven for addressing voters in Turkish during the same rally. Bulgaria’s Election Code does not allow election campaigns to be conducted in other languages than Bulgarian.
“I will appeal the decision before the Central Electoral Commission because it is based on an openly discriminatory assumption, not only because it contradicts a priority recommendation of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) but mostly because it uses an incorrect discriminatory term, “foreign language”,”Mestan stated, as cited by the press office of DPS and dnevnik.bg.
“Mother tongue cannot be referred to as a foreign language for any Bulgarian citizen,” he commented.