24 March 2017

Byzantine Bulgaria

Only in the Balkans.
Bulgaria which contains a large Turkish population and one that has endured no little difficulty fears that Erdogan may meddle in their elections and seek influence.


Of course this is further complicated by the fact that Bulgaria and Turkey have their own somewhat strained history. Bulgaria after all was the last of the European nations to break with the Ottoman Empire. Largely free from Turkish rule after the Russian backed campaign of the 1870s, Sofia formally declared independence in 1908, just over a century ago.
Both nations are now part of NATO but the history doesn't go away. The Bulgarian Turks were treated very poorly under Zhivkov during the 1980s and even though the Bulgarian communist government no longer exists, such memories die hard and can still be exploited.
But this all further complicated by the fact that NATO member Bulgaria is historically tied to Moscow and even now the nation is caught in the middle of a proxy struggle between Putin and forces out of Washington. Turkey has often served as a proxy for the United States but this relationship is strained and Ankara contrary to all historical impulse and precedent has moved toward Moscow.
But does the new 'friendship' extend to working with Moscow to counter Washington's interests in Bulgaria? Or (more likely) is Turkey working to support the American agenda?
Or is Erdogan pursuing his own policies and thwarting both Moscow and Washington?
The US State Department is a somewhat unstable ship at the moment and it's not clear what exactly is happening. The Pentagon and CIA have also been quite active in Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania. They too have interests with regard to what direction Bulgaria takes. The chaos in the White House is probably being ignored by those with active agendas.
Erdogan is also playing something of the Pan-Turkish hand by appealing to ethnic fellows in Bulgaria, Germany and elsewhere. Collectively all these activities are putting NATO at risk and at a very volatile moment.
Erdogan of course knows the West (Washington and Berlin) was behind the coup and attempt on his life. He's not going to be idle. Like so many others he's testing the waters. The Trump administration is a wild card. It's incompetent but also potentially dangerous.

Unfortunately for Bulgaria, they are one of several nations that are forced to be the staging ground for this intense multi-party Byzantine chess game. 

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