Page 34 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Youth Association
5
and the Thracian Women’s Association
6
are affiliated to it. The positioning
of the Thracian organisation in the public domain changes in the course of time, reflecting the
historical and political context.
After the Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and the then Ottoman province of
Eastern Rumelia in 1885, organisations involving Macedonians and Thracians were founded in
order to solve the Bulgarian national problem. Following the BalkanWar, the Thracian movement
chose its own line of development.
7
Having sprung up as a movement that meant to join the
region to the Bulgarian state, and to defend the interests of Thrace before the Great Powers,
subsequently the Thracian organisation focused its efforts on solving the problems of refugees,
such as accommodation, property compensation, etc. (for more details see Filchev 2007).
8
In 1934, along with other political parties and social organisations, UTSB was outlawed
by Kimon Georgiev’s government. It was re-established in 1947. In the socialist period, the
priorities of the Union seemed to be celebrating historical dates and figures, organising fests and
gatherings, supporting amateur art activities, elucidating the politics of the Bulgarian Communist
Party. In 1977, with a decision of the Central Committee of the BCP, the organisation was once
more dissolved because it had outlived its purpose.
9
In 1990, the Thracian societies and the
UTSB were resurrected. Among the objectives in its statute were the following: the persistence
in and the successful completion of the Bulgarian national cause in Thrace, the right to have
Bulgarianness brought back to and reborn in Eastern and Western Thrace, the development of
Thracian spirituality, the safeguarding of the Thracian heritage, the protection of the human and
property rights of the Thracian refugees and their descendants (
Ustav
1990).
After the changes in the Statutes in May 2011, and in the spirit of the time and its place
in the EU, the organisation gave up some of its markedly nationalistic formulations and outlined
its goals as follows: persistence in and the successful realization of the slogan “Thrace with no
borders”; integration of Thrace within the framework of the European Union; Euroregion Thrace:
constitution, management and development; safeguarding and popularizing the Thracian
cultural and historical heritage; respect for the human and property rights of the Thracian
5 The first Thracian society was the
Strandzha
organisation for culture and charity, founded in 1896 in Varna.
The first youth society sprang up in Varna too, the year was 1922. In 1924 the youth societies were united in the
Thracian Youth Association. Currently, youth structures exist in Varna, Stara Zagora, Rousse, Dimitrovgrad, and Burgas
(cf.
Trakia
newspaper, no 10, 2011).
6 The firstWomen’s club of Thracian Bulgarians was founded in 1930 inVarna. TheThracianWomen’s Association
dates back to 1933.
7 The researchers of the Thracian issue accept that the Edirne Fest (1918) becomes an inaugural gathering for
the national organisation entitled
Eastern Thrace
as it leads to the initiation of quite a few Thracian societies in the
country (cf.
Samo istina
).
8 The change in the goals and function of the organisation resulted in alterations in its name. In 1922 the
institution was re-named as the
Trakia society for culture and charity
. Towards the end of 1922, an Internal Thracian
Revolutionary Organisation (ITRO) was founded with the objective to achieve the political independence of Thrace.
A revolutionary movement was organised. Under Turkish pressure, ITRO was banned in 1927, and substituted by the
Committee for the Freedom of Thrace (CFT), a conspiratorial organisation that had the goal to liberate Thrace and
have it as part of Bulgaria.
9 The number of Thracian societies varies. The researchers of the Thracian organisation have traced more than
250 societies and more than 20,000 regular members (Filchev 2007: 4).