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German MEP Could Become ‘Persona Non Grata’ in Bulgaria

Coalition partner says ‘green jihadist’ should be kicked out of the country for interfering in domestic affairs.

12 February 2018

The leadership of the National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), the party of Bulgarian Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov (pictured), published a statement on Friday that called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare German Member of the European Parliament Ska Keller “persona non grata” in Bulgaria. The statement is a reaction to Keller’s participation in a protest against the construction of ski infrastructure in Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park, Politico says.

 

The controversy is particularly embarrassing as Bulgaria currently stands at the head of the European Union’s rotating presidency.

 

The statement refers to Keller as a “green jihadist” and demands that the ministry “expel her by lorry to the border with Turkey,” according to BNE Intellinews. The Turkey reference relates to Keller’s years studying at a Turkish university, and is hardly a surprise coming from the rabidly anti-Turk NFSB.

 

Keller is co-president of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. She was in Sofia

on Thursday and Friday, and participated in demonstrations against government plans to build new ski lifts and ski runs in Pirin National Park in southwestern Bulgaria. She denounced the plans in a public speech, Politico reports.

 

Pirin National Park is listed as a UNESCO heritage site, and a Natura 2000 protected area, a label that designates a green area protected by the European Union. The Damsko ski resort, a major tourist attraction, is located inside the park. Last December the Bulgarian government allowed the resort to expand, a decision that sparked major protests in the country.

 

The NFSB is a nationalist party that is part of the United Patriots block, which forms a coalition government with the GERB party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The NFSB also accused Keller of participating “in the nocturnal loitering in Sofia of political marginals under the guise of a call to 'Save Pirin,' but whose real motive is to 'take power through lies,’ ” according to Balkan Insight.

 

The Bulgarian government distanced itself from the NFSB statement by writing on its official website: “The position of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) in regard to the MEP Ska Keller is not the position of the Bulgarian government.”

 

Keller responded to the Bulgarian vice prime minister with a statement of her own, cited by Politico, which said that “These words are shocking and inappropriate to a vice prime minister.”

 

On Twitter, she also added:

 

 

 

  • Besides protesting the expansion of the Bansko ski resort in Pirin National Park, Keller and the Greens have also voiced concerns over the plans by the Bulgarian government to extend a highway through the Kresna Gorge, another European-protected site in southwestern Bulgaria. The Greens fear the construction of the road will be detrimental to the area, according to Euractiv.

 

  • Bulgaria has been the president of the Council of the EU since the beginning of this year. Almost from day one, protests have been taking place in the capital city of Sofia against the government’s lack of action against corruption and organized crime, against the government’s refusal to ratify the Istanbul Convention to protect women from domestic violence and, as noted above, against the government’s plans related to nature protection.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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