“Turkey attaches great importance to its relations with neighbor, friend and ally Bulgaria, and is willing to support these relations with concrete cooperation projects in a way that would contribute to the welfare and well-being of the peoples of the two countries.”
Doğan was addressing delegates of his Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HÖH) party when a tall man dress in black leapt onto the stage, rushed to his podium and pointed the non-lethal weapon at his head, video footage showed. Visibly stunned, Doğan flung the attacker’s arm away before a shot could be fired. The man tried to point the gun once again but it “seems to have misfired,” according to Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov. Both men fell to the ground in the ensuing scuffle. A handful of conference delegates rushed to the stage and kicked the assailant. Television footage showed the young man’s bloodied face as police dragged him away.
The suspect was later identified as a 25-year-old ethnic Turk from the eastern city of Burgas, who already had a police record for drugs, robberies and hooliganism, according to Agence France-Presse. The man was carrying two knives as well as the gas pistol, police chief Valery Yordanov said. Experts who later examined the gun confirmed that it was non-lethal. The three bullets loaded in it could not have threatened Doğan’s life if properly fired, Yordanov said, adding that the man would likely face a charge of grave hooliganism rather than attempted manslaughter.
In Sofia, hours after the attack, Doğan announced his resignation, which had been widely expected regardless of the attack. “This time my decision is categorical!” he said, proposing that his deputy, Lyutvi Mestan, replace him as head of the HÖH party.Politics behind murder?
Meanwhile, Mestan called on the authorities to find out the “political personality” behind the murder attempt, speaking to Bulgarian National Radio yesterday. If the authorities do not reveal these people, they will be responsible for the attack, said Mestan, adding her opinion that the attack was part of an attempt to demonize the HÖH.
Doğan prided himself on his role in maintaining Bulgaria’s peace while ethnic conflicts raged across the country’s Balkan neighbors in the 1990s. The Turkish minority, which was subjected to assimilation policies, won key rights under his leadership including free religious expression, political representation in Parliament, Turkish classes in schools and Turkish-language news broadcasts on state television.