On the last working day before the elections, with the introduction of a compulsory implementation, the voting declaration form which was to be filled in Bulgarian and in Cyrillic alphabet, now had to be filled in under the supervision of the authorities and without getting any assistance. Again, in line with this new implementation, even a single wrong written letter was considered enough of a defect by the authorities to cancel and return the form to the voter, restarting the process all over. Moreover, the voters were admitted into the ballot halls one by one by closing doors after each voter was admitted, forcing the people to form long queues and reducing the average voting process deliberately and systematically; voters were held waiting for two hours to cast a single vote in certain cases. Any objection to these unpleasant practices met with the authorities’ threat that they would shut down the ballot boxes if protests continued. The ballots of the few voters who managed to cast against all odds were rather arbitrarily cancelled by the authorities who put forth simple and ridiculous pretexts and disregarded the official criteria set forth by the Bulgarian Central Election Commission. Another arbitrary practice was that the surveys related to election and counting results of the ballot boxes were allowed to be published and broadcast in the Bulgarian media before the voting process was actually accomplished in Turkey.

These implementations caused unbearable delays in the ballot-casting process and prevented almost eighty percent of the voters from voting. The compulsory filling of the declarations blocked the way for the people to vote, which is the foundation stone of any democratic system. This implementation reminiscent of the Jivkov era was thus put into effect in a modern European Union member country by depriving people of their right to vote in a legal but illegitimate manner. The voters were hence exposed to a fascist treatment under the disguise of democracy.

It is obvious that these compulsory implementations aimed at hindering the Bulgarian citizens living in Turkey from voting for the Bulgarian Parliamentary elections.  A similar incident had earlier taken place on the Turkish-Bulgarian border cross point, whereby the passage of the Bulgarian citizens travelling to Bulgaria from Turkey was obstructed. As the Turks and Muslims of Bulgaria who had been subjected to assimilation and compulsory deportation policies of the Bulgarian State in 1989, we know quite well that all these practices aimed at depriving the Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin of their chance to defend their legitimate right to vote in a legitimate democratic system. Neither the Bulgarian political parties who won seats in the parliament nor the Bulgarian elections under these circumstances can and should be regarded as legitimate.

It is not democratic that Bulgaria opens only 35 sections in Turkey for 170.000 [one hundred seventy thousand] voters. The winning political parties and the authorities of Bulgaria, who perpetrated such acts, have not only stolen the ballots of the voters but also breached human rights. The government they will form on this unjust foundation will not be legitimate. The Turkish people who were deprived of their chance to defend their rights at ballot boxes will be one of those who will apply to court in order to object to the election results. They will never be among those who resort to illegitimate actions such as the Bulgarian administration.

 Cultural and Solidarity Association

of Balkan Emigrants in Izmir