Head of Bulgarian political party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) Lutvi Mestan has been removed from office, it was announced Thursday.
According to a statement from the MRF press office, Turkish-origin Mestan was not only dismissed as MRF chairman, but from the party itself.
Political analysts believe the founder and honorary head of MRF, Ahmet Dogan, was reportedly upset with Mestan because of his "close" ties with Turkey.
Mestan had defended Turkey when it shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on Nov. 24 for violating Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.
He told Anadolu Agency that defending Turkey and NATO over the downed warplane incident was not a mistake.
"You support a neighbor and friendly country from NATO's perspective...We are setting the balance right. We are not an objective country. We are not Serbia. Serbia is not a member of NATO. It can see itself in between Russia and NATO and can look for a balance but Bulgaria must see itself as a member of NATO first of all. I told the party's attitude regarding the Russian plane incident," Mestan said.
The party will be run by the presidency board until its ordinary congress in March.
Movement for Rights and Freedoms is a political party mainly supported by citizens of Turkish origin in Bulgaria. It holds 36 seats out of 240 in the Bulgarian parliament.