Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Bulgaria of putting pressure on its ethnic Turks ahead of this weekend's Bulgarian elections, as relations between Ankara and European nations show no signs of improving.
"To see and hear that some pressure is being applied there causes us great concern," Erdogan said in Ankara. Erdogan also accused the European Union of acting against its own democratic framework and said his government would stand up for ethnic Turks.
Erdogan's comments come after Bulgarian President Rumen Radev accused Turkey of trying to interfere in Bulgaria's parliamentary elections. Last weekend, Bulgaria recalled its Ankara-based envoy and summoned the Turkish ambassador in Sofia for talks.
On Tuesday, Bulgarian nationalists blocked the border crossing with Turkey, saying they want to stop Turks with dual citizenship from voting in the snap elections on Sunday, television bTV reported.
Several hundred thousand ethnic Turks live in Bulgaria while a slightly smaller number of Turks holding Bulgarian citizenship live in Turkey, a legacy of Bulgaria's time under Ottoman imperial rule.
The strife between the two nations comes on top of worsening relations between Turkey and a number of EU member states, including Germany and the Netherlands. Turkey is to hold a referendum on a proposed expansion of presidential powers in three weeks.