EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Thursday 8 June 2017 – National Turkish Union and Kungyun v. Bulgaria (no. 4776/08)

The applicants are the association the National Turkish Union, and Menderes Mehmet Kungyun, a Bulgarian national who was born in 1950 and lives in Kazanlak. Mr Kungyun, a founder member and president of the association, complains of the Bulgarian authorities’ refusal to register the association.

In 2006 Mr Kungyun announced his intention to form an association dedicated to promoting the rights of the Muslim minority in Bulgaria. Following his announcement several hostile articles appeared in the press, criticising the association’s aims and claiming variously that the applicant wanted to create an ethnic Turkish party and that he was receiving funding from secret services abroad. In May 2006 Mr Kungyun and five other founder members applied to the Plovdiv Regional Court to have the association registered. The court refused their application on the grounds that one of the association’s declared aims was political. Under the Constitution, only political parties were allowed to conduct political activities. The court also observed that commercial activities could not feature among the primary aims of a non-profit association. Lastly, the court noted a lack of precision in the statute concerning the association’s representative bodies.

Mr Kungyun appealed. The Court of Appeal upheld the original judgment and observed that an association’s name should not be misleading or contrary to public morals. The name “Turkish National Union” referred to the existence of a Turkish nation in Bulgaria and implied a separatist objective. Mr Kungyun appealed on points of law. On 10 July 2007 the Supreme Court of Cassation dismissed his appeal and upheld the Court of Appeal judgment. The applicants allege that the refusal to register the association “Turkish National Union” constitutes a breach of their rights under Article 11 of the Convention (freedom of assembly and association).

Press release ECHR 167 (2017) 02/06/2017

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