Effects of Bulgarian Emigrants to Turkey

Migration is an ancient phenomenon of human history. It is defined as the change of  one’s living place and social environment for another, unfamiliar community. The purpose of migration may be to improve one’s live opportunities under new conditions, or to escape from economic, natural, political or other pressures.[1] It is a global phenomenon that did not just turn up in the 21st century. Due to economic and security developments migration increasingly creates difficult life situations for the migrants due to ethnical conflicts or restrictive immigration policies.

Turkey’s structure can be a good example to understand migration. Anatolia is a migration centre. There was many internal and external migrations and as a result of this, there have been very major civilizations. “After Turkish people immigrated into the region, migration movements both from inside to outside and vice versa continued, resulting in Turkey’s social structure.”[2] The growth policy, starting with the establishment and expansion of the Ottoman Empire, supported to housing Turkish speaking territory with an encouraged migration. With the weakening of the empire reversed this situation.[3]

Bulgaria was established in the Tuna district of the Ottoman Empire in the last quarter of the 19th century. Immediately preceding the foundation of Bulgaria, in 1876, approximately 70% of the fertile arable land belonged to the Turks and almost half of the population was composed of Turks and Muslims. At this period,  1,613,000 Bulgars and 1,801,000 Turks comprised a total population of 3,414,000.[4] Even so, Immigration from Bulgaria to Anatolia began in 1806 with the outbreak of the Ottoman-Russian war, and individual or mass migration has continued sporadically from 1878 until today.[5] Pan-Slavist Russian rulers were disturbed by the fact that more than half of the population was composed of Turks as this was a hindrance before the ideal of the Slavic-Orthodox Bulgaria.Therefore, they used the 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War as a means to cleanse the Balkans of Turks.[6] According to McCarthy, with this war 1.253.500 Turkish people had to survive as refugees. In addition, a large number of Turkish and Muslim civilians has became a target of genocide. The first time in this war, Turkish Population in Bulgaria has dropped a minority position.[7]

From the day it became independent; Bulgaria made promises to respect the rights and liberties of the Turkish minority and signed a number of treaties to this end. There are almost a dozen of treaties that guarantee the minority rights of Turks in Bulgaria. These are the Treaty of Berlin (1878), Istanbul Protocol and Agreement (1909), Turkey-Bulgaria Peace Treaty (1913), The Convention on the Muftis (1913), Treaty of Neuilly (1919), Turkey-Bulgaria NonAggression Treaty (1925), Turkey-Bulgaria Convention of Establishment (1925), Bulgarian Peace Treaty (1947), Documents on Human Rights (1945-1973), Turkey-Bulgaria Migration Agreement (1968) and various other European Agreements on Human Rights.[8] Even if these aggrements, Bulgaria has never failed to comply with them. They have made always difficulties to Turks, and tried to asimilate them.

Established in Bulgaria in 1944 Communist regime and this regime determined the destiny of Turkish people. They have restricted Turkish people’s rights. Most schools are closed and they distributed school council and communities. Turkish newspapers, magazines and printings are prohibited. Many Turks were arrested and imprisoned because of the political reasons. The most important decision after the second world war was nationalization of Turk schools. With nationalization, they want to integrate Turks and Bulgarians but the main aim was to asimilate them.

Bulgarian government interfered to their religions, traditional lifes, schools. After these happenings, Turks have decided to immigrate to Turkey.[9] They believed that the nationalist apartheid will never change. Because of this, after 1947 increased the number of who want to emigrate, but the little number of them emigrated, because Bulgarian government didn’t gave passport to them. The number of Bulgarian Turks, who emigrated to Turkey between 1945-1949, is as shown in the table;

                          YEARS       NUMBER OF MIGRANTS
                         1945                             631
                         1946                             706
                         1947                            1.763
                         1948                            1.514
                         1949                            1.670
                       TOTAL                             6.284

Source: Şimşir,1985; 57

Between the years 1950-1951 is the first great migration lived. In 10 August 1950 wanted  Bulgarian government to give to Turkey 250.000 Bulgarian Turks. The relationship between Bulgaria and Turkey is cocked after this request, and 150.000 Bulgarian Turks emigrated.

In 1956 came Jivkov to power and asimilation movements continued up to 1985 systematicly. Government wanted to do all Turks Bulgarian. They enacted laws like that, all Turkish names must be changed with a Bulgarish names, religions things was blocked, not investing to places, where Turks have lived, forced to take Money who spoke in Turkish. This applications made strengthened the identitiy of minority ethnic Turks.[10]

As a natural result of this developments, the phonemon of migration has been on the agenda again with various time periods. In 1968 is the Migration Treaty signed between Turkey and Bulgaria. Under the treaty between the year 1969-1978, about 130.000 Turks emigrated to Turkey. After this aggrement there have been very treatment and Turks rights are also securied.[11]

The Rights and Liberties Movement (MRF) was established in 1985 with the objective of defending the rights of Turks in Bulgaria and has acted both in Bulgaria and international platforms for an unarmed defense of the rights and liberties of Turks.[12]

In June 1985, with the protest meetings and demonstrations organized by Turkish associations in Deliorman and Rodops regions of Bulgaria, resistance against Todor Jivkov policies increased. Nevertheless, at the end of May 1989, when Turkey opened its border gates, allowing 313,894 Turks to come to the country in a relatively very short period of time, the resistance ceased and the policies of Todor Jivkov became successful in one sense.[13]


[1] Roth, Hayden, 2010; 43

[2] Roth, Hayden, 2010; 44

[3] http://www.gocsempozyumu.org/turkiyeyegoc.htm

[4] Çetin, 2009; 603

[5] Doğanay,1997; 197

[6] Çetin, 2009; 603

[7] Kader, 2009; 1

[8] Çetin,2009; 603-604

[9] Şimşir, 1985; 57

[10] Kader, 2009; 1

[11] Çağlayan, 2007; 11

[12] Çetin, 2009; 605

[13] Çetin, 2009; 608

ilköğretimini kayseri’de ortaöğretimini Antalya’da tamamlayan Bilge Tosun, Ege Üniversitesi iktisat bölümü 4. sınıf öğrencisidir.İktisat bölümünde yüksek lisans eğitimine hazırlanan Bilge, iktisat alanı ile beraber Uluslararası ilişkiler alanında da çalışmalarına devam etmektedir.

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