Page 46 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
and municipal councillors were candidates of the
Trakia
political club. In the last presidential
elections, UTSB openly supported the socialist candidates Ivailo Kalfin and Stefan Danailov. The
choice was based on the political biographies of the pair, the activities of the political party they
belonged to, and their biographical involvement with the Thracian community.
29
In the eve of the last elections, in the
Trakia
newspaper it publishes, UTSB made the point
that “nearly 1.5 million Bulgarians are descendants of people involved in the tragic events in
Thrace” and “UTSB as a social organisation naturally joins forces with those candidates, who
defend the Thracian cause as part of the Bulgarian national cause” (Koruev 2011: 1). The Thracian
organisation declared publicly its position that it will not form a coalition with the Movement for
Rights and Freedoms at a national level. The pre-election slogan “Together for the prosperity of
our native land” was aimed at mobilising all Thracian descendants.
30
Utilising theThracian heritage for political purposes is a premise for its transformation. The
active participation of the Thracian organisation in the local elections is ambivalently evaluated
by the descendants. For many of them, this is a change in the nature of the organisation that has
declared it is not a political party, and their reaction is one of disappointment and withdrawing
from active involvement.
The new leadership of UTSB publicly declared its ambitions to turn into an active figure
on the political stage. This is obvious in the 2012 programme, which is packed with activities of
the
Trakia
political club. As the Thracian electorate is small and fluid, new options are sought
after. In order to achieve a better visibility in the public domain, the institution declares more
wide-reaching goals, leaving the smaller scale of the Thracian question, addressing more popular
socially significant problems, and making contacts with new social actors. Their intentions have
found their expression in the goals phrased in the new statutes, i.e. the organisation defends
the interests not only of the Thracian refugees and their descendants but also of the Bulgarians
abroad, of Orthodoxy and Bulgarianness in general. The first steps in this direction have been
made. UTSB publicly criticised the politics of the government of not using the Bulgarian status of
a EU member-state in order to demand from the neighbours to demonstrate “European thinking
and attitude towards it and towards the Bulgarian communities on their side of the border.”
31
The
organisation disapproves of the politics of the neighbour states and qualifies them as inadequate
(“typical of the past”). It requires them to show“reciprocal respect towards the Bulgarian history,
state and people, and to prevent violations of the rights and interests of the Bulgarians on their
with its neighbours, including with reference to the international commitments that the country had not kept.
29 That is to say, the achievement of the MEPs from
Coalition for Bulgaria
with regard to addressing the problem
with the compensations for the refugees from Eastern Thrace, opening negotiations with Turkey at the time of Kalfin’s
term of office as a minister of Foreign Affairs, and styling St. Danailov, the son of one of the chair persons of the
Thracian organisation, as “the bearer of Thracian spirituality an active contributor for the Thracian cause.”
30 At the local elections in 2011, the
Trakia
political club had its own candidates (6 mayors of municipalities,
10 lists of municipal councillors, 13 mayors of boroughs), joined local coalitions (6 mayors and 8 lists of municipal
councillor) or supported candidates offered by other parties, coalitions or initiative committees.
31 Cf. http://stdbg.org/p_stdb-bg-predsedatel-krasimir-premyanov-interview_1_241.htm.