The Bulgarian nationalist party VMRO and its partner cable TV channel SKAT have collected 200 000 signatures in support of their demand for a nation-wide referendum on Turkey’s EU accession.
The VMRO press center announced Tuesday that the signatures were collected in one month, and that the initiative of the party has already met the legal threshold of 200 000 signatures, which makes it obligatory for the Parliament to hold a vote on the proposed referendum.
According to the Bulgarian Referendum Act, if a public initiative collects 500 000 signatures, the government will be obliged to hold a referendum regardless of any vote of the Parliament.
The VMRO party and SKAT TV have declared that they hoped to collect more than 500 000 signatures by the end of their campaign which is planned to last until July 18, 2010. If they succeed, Bulgaria’s first post-1989 referendum will be on whether to approve the EU accession of Turkey.
VMRO said that a total of 300 volunteers administered the collecting of the signatures around the country. Over 40 000 signatures were collected in Sofia, over 20 000 – in Varna, over 10 000 in Burgas, Blagoevgrad, Pleven, and Veliko Tarnov, over 16 000 – in Stara Zagora, and over 5 000 in Targovishte.
The VMRO initiative has also attracted 2 000 signatures of Bulgarians living abroad – in Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belgium, Germany, Holland, USA, Spain, Greece – with 300 signatures coming only from Athens. The party points out that 200 foreign citizens – including citizens of Turkey – have supported the referendum initiative, and that many Muslims have also signed the petition.