AFP: Bulgarian election candidates hit out at Turkey20 March 2017 | 20:45 | FOCUS News Agency
"Our party categorically rejects interference by a foreign country in our interior affairs," said Kornelia Ninova from the Socialist party (BSP).
"We do not accept comments by Turkey's social affairs minister, by Turkey's ambassador (and) by a mayor calling openly for people to vote for a particular party," she said.
Ninova was referring to Turkey's open support for Dost, a party for Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish minority, which is running in the March 26 general elections for the first time.
The government in Sofia summoned Turkey's ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Ankara for consultations last week.
Bulgaria is home to a 700,000-strong ethnic Turkish minority, a legacy of the Ottoman empire. More than 200,000 ethnic Turks with Bulgarian passports reside in Turkey.
Boyko Borisov from the centre-right GERB party, the burly former police chief hoping to serve as prime minister for the third time, took a similar line.
"This interference is unacceptable," he told AFP. "But we have to press on with diplomacy, with actions that take into account the fact that (Turkey) is our neighbour."
Tensions between the two countries also come at a time of a wider row between Ankara and the European Union ahead of Turkey's referendum on April 16 on expanding the powers of the presidency.
Borisov said that in this diplomatic spat "comments have been made that will not be forgotten for many years... The confrontation will bring nothing positive in the long term."
For her part Ninova commented that "there is aggression on both sides."
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