Page 157 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
lodgings, districts, etc. (Neymarc 1998: 20).
My current discussion presents only part of my research which besides Haskovo and
Svilengrad also covered Yambol, Elhovo, Harmanli, Atolovo and Brodilovo. The research
methodology draws upon a variety of sources and materials: field observations and documenting,
archive and document work, spatial analysis, content analysis of maps, etc. In the course of my
research I had the opportunity to benefit from consultations with different experts – scholars,
architects, municipal officials, etc.
State (national) policies for accommodating Thracian refugees
In the period when Bulgaria was faced with a significant concentration of mass refugee
flows from Eastern andWestern Thrace – after the Balkan wars andWWI – the Bulgarian state was
very centralized. At the local level, municipal authorities had limited functions and their decisions
usually had to be sanctioned by the state representatives on the regional level and even by the
respective ministries. It is only logical that at the time state national policy on every issue, and
especially on issues of such a scale, had a leading role in relation to local policies. It must be noted,
however, that chronologically state policy did not precede the local one – quite the contrary, the
central government got involved at a later stage in the accommodation of refugees developing a
general plan for their distribution
on the territory of the country.
In the years after WWI until about the mid 1930s, the Bulgarian state issued several laws
and accompanying regulation
documents
, set up several
institutions
with respective regional
branches, directed considerable
financial means
and withdrew an enormous external loan
– all measures aimed at solving the refugee problem. This is the place to note that at the time
Bulgaria was flooded with refugees from all its territories that remained outside state borders
after the war – Eastern andWestern Thrace, Vardar and Aegean Macedonia, theWestern Outlands,
and Dobrudzha. There were also massive waves of refugees from Russia (following the October
Revolution of 1917), as well as Armenians from the Ottoman Empire (after 1922 in Turkey). At the
same time along all the borders, with the exception of that in Eastern Thrace, and in connection
with the execution of theTreaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, therewere established the so-called restricted
zones – strips about 50 km in width with a special regime of settlement.
3
The core
documents
which aimed at regulating the settlement of refugees and securing
some living conditions for them were: Law for the Housing Crisis (1919), Law for Refugee
Accommodation and Occupation (1920), Law for Employment Land Property (1921), Law for
Employment Agrarian Farms (1924), Law for Refugees’ Agrarian Accommodation (1925), Law for
Agrarian Accommodation of Refugees through UN Loans (1926), Decree-Law for Refugees’ Relief
(1937).Whilebefore thewithdrawal of theso-calledRefugeeLoan theprincipal institutions involved
in accommodating refugees were the existing such, like the Bureau for Refugee Settlement at the
Ministry of Domestic Affairs and People’s Health, District and municipal departments and various
commissions, after the loan came into effect they founded the Main Directorate for Refugee
3 Irrespective of that, in the report of the Main Directorate of refugee settlement (Hitilov 1932: 104), we read
that over 1000 refugee families were given land in the restricted zones.