Bulgaria may block Turkey's EU bid

Jan. 5, 2010 at 12:21 PM

BRUSSELS, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A Bulgarian official says his country will block Turkey's European Union bid unless it settles a displaced persons argument from 1913.

Bojidar Dimitrov, a Bulgarian cabinet minister without portfolio who runs the country's Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, told local media Sunday he will seek $20 billion from Turkey to settle the dispute or will oppose Ankara's EU application, the EUobserver reported.

The publication said the dispute stems from a 1913 move by the then Ottoman Empire to expel hundreds of thousands of ethnic Bulgarians from lands lying on the western side of the Bosphorus River. The Republic of Turkey in 1925 recognized the rights of the displaced people in a treaty whose terms were never implemented.

"Turkey is surely able to pay this sum, after all, it's the 16th largest economic power in the world," Dimitrov reportedly said. "One of the three conditions of Turkey's full membership of the EU is solving the problem of the real estate of Thracian refugees."

A Bulgarian official told the EUobserver that Dimitrov's statement reflects government policy and that the issue is being addressed by a Bulgarian-Turkish intergovernmental working group.

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