The Bulgarian Parliament in a landmark move on Wednesday condemned the forced assimilation policy implemented against Turks in Bulgaria during the 1980s by the former communist regime.
Parliament adopted a declaration on Wednesday that condemned the assimilation campaign against Turks in Bulgaria between 1984 and 1989. The declaration, drafted by former Bulgarian prime minister and Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB) leader Ivan Kostov, was backed by 112 of the 115 MPs who attended a voting session on the declaration.
The assimilation of Turks was condemned as “a form of ethnic cleansing performed by the totalitarian regime.” The declaration also called for those responsible for these policies to be brought to justice and punished. “The attempt to cover it up with a statute of limitations transfers the guilt from the concrete culprits to the whole Bulgarian people,” it added.
In the 1980s Bulgaria implemented an assimilation policy directed at its Turkish minority. It was forbidden to speak Turkish, practice Turkish customs and exhibit other elements of Turkish culture. According to a post-monitoring report adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2010, during those years nearly 1 million ethnic Turks were subjected to forced “Bulgarisation” and about 850 –900 ethnic Turks were sent to prisons or concentration camps arbitrarily and without due process. Between May and September of 1989, 350,000 ethnic Turks were forcibly deported to Turkey in order to make Bulgaria a mono-ethnic state.
Turkish Foreign Ministry welcomed what it said a "belated step" for a country that is on the path of consolidating its democracy and integrating into the Euro-Atlantic sphere.