TODAY.AZ / World news

Turkey's FM says Bulgaria claims can harm friendship

05 January 2010 [17:58] - TODAY.AZ
Bulgarian Turks were forced to leave the country during the so-called "revival process" at the end of the 80s.
There have been no official appeals from Bulgaria for the compensation of the properties of Bulgarian nationals left in Turkey, Anadolu news agency quoted Turkish foreign minister as sayingTuesday.

"There are no official attempts for such a thing. It is in both countries' interests that Turkey-Bulgaria relations, which constitute a very good model, remain the way they are," Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in a joint press conference with his Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim, who pays a visit to Turkey.

News reports have said Bulgaria planned to ask Turkey for a 10 billion USD compensation for the properties that Bulgarian nationals left behind in 1913 in Turkey.

A Bulgarian cabinet member has signalled that his country would block Turkey's accession to the European Union unless Turkey agreed to pay the compensation.

Bulgarian Turks were forced to leave the country during the so-called "revival process" at the end of the 80s. A "revival process" launched by the late communist dictator Todor Zhivkov to forcibly assimilate Muslims culminated with a campaign to force them to change their names, and the exodus of over 300,000 ethnic Turks to neighbouring Turkey in 1989.

According to Amnesty International, at least 100 Muslims died in his four-month campaign to force them to change their names to Bulgarian, which banned the Turkish language in public. It also banned the wearing of headscarves and other Islamic customs such as circumcision and funeral rights.

"What happened in the history did not happen as a unilateral immigration. Nearly two million Turks had to leave their homes in Bulgaria and they headed back to Turkey. And any discussion of these historical issues needs a wider and a comprehensive debate. But the continuation of the friendly relations between Turkey and Bulgaria is in the good of both countries. There is great benefit in avoiding from making such statements which might harm the friendship," Davutoglu said.

Muslims make up about 12 percent of the Balkan country's 7.6 million people and they are native in European Union member-Bulgaria. Most are the descendants of ethnic Turks who arrived during five centuries of Ottoman rule that ended in 1878. Muslims and Christians live alongside in a culture known as "komshuluk," or neighbourly relations.

/World Bulletin/

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