Page 43 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Thrace and Asia Minor,”
26
reminiscences about the birthplaces of the predecessors. The first film
recalls the past and serves as a catalyst of emotions and negative attitudes towards Turkey’s
membership in the EU. The speeches point towards the role of the media and the specialised
programmes in keeping the memory and safeguarding the historical facts from the past (“Let
us show history the way it was. If we do not write our history, others will do it for us. Let us be
tolerant without forgetting the past”). The time of the fellow-villagers meeting, Toma’s Sunday
(the week after Easter), is interpreted as portentous of the event: it is a time of paying tribute to
the dead, i.e. suitable for paying tribute to those Bulgarians, who were killed or driven away from
their birthplaces.
Saturated with signs of things national and Thracian, the event played the strings of
emotions as intended and stirred up a certain type of attitudes. The participants were welcomed
with bread and salt. The official part began with a song about Thrace and the performances of
the singing group at the Thracian society in Sliven, and ended with Emil Dimitrov’s “My country,
my Bulgaria”. The Bulgarian and the Thracian flags were centrally situated in the room. The guests
received issues of the
Trakia
newspaper, along with other materials discussing the native lands
on the other side of the border: ethnographic editions, family histories, etc. The topical issue of
the compensations for the Thracian properties kept the participants interested and active; it was
a suitable occasion to share family recollections.
With the meeting “Back to the roots”, the organisers relied on the familiar instruments
to consolidate the community: memorialising and mobilising the historical memory, among
which martyrdom and painting the past in heroic shades play a key role. This type of event has
an important function in making the younger generation part of the past and reconstructing
recollections about shared experiences.
The objectives of filling in a questionnaire are the confirmation of the social network
and the preparation of an organised visit to the birthplaces of the predecessors. The awareness
that the collective body and will are important is expressed in collective decisions, addressed to
the local authorities and UTSB. In a declaration to the leaders of the Union, people insisted on
getting assistance in order for a programme about Thracian refugees to get started on national
television, they would like to have a conference on the topic of
Turkey, EU, the refugee question
,
they demanded the active participation of professionally prepared representatives of UTSB in a
interdepartmental committee for the negotiations between Bulgaria and Turkey on the issue of
refugee properties.
In a declaration addressed to the president, the Chairperson of the Bulgarian Parliament,
the Prime Minister of Bulgaria and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the participants in the meeting
decisively disagreed with being treated as the descendants of out-migrants:
26 In 2007, under the pressure of Bulgarian Eurodeputies, the European parliament linked Turkey’s membership
in the EUwith solving the problemwith the Thracian properties. The negotiations between Bulgaria andTurkey began
in 2009. It was in that period that a mass campaign for finding property documentation about the places left behind
in Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor was initiated: UTSB postulated it as the patriotic duty of the descendants.