BETWEEN ADAPTATION AND NOSTALGIA:
THE BULGARIAN TURKS IN TURKEY

Dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Right

EDITED BY ANTONINA ZHELYAZKOVA
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR MINORITY RESEARCH
AND INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS
Sofia 1998

This work is the third, collaborative volume of the series “The Fate of Muslim Communities in the Balkans”. The study is devoted to the Bulgarian Turkish immigrants in the Republic of Turkey. It is the first endeavour to more thoroughly investigate the transmigration of hundreds of thousands of people, their individual and collective philosophy, their mentality, their efforts to survive as identities and personalities in the process of adaptation in a different, though proximate, world.

The present volume has been prepared with scholarly expertise, but, at the same time, is very much an essayistic work owing to the beaming warmth of its affection for and sympathy with the displaced and thus lost compatriots.

International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, 1998

Antonina Zhelyazkova
Tsvetana Gheorghieva
Donka Dimitrova
Peter Krasztev
Emil Milanov
Jale Hodja
1998
Translated from Bulgarian by Maya Dimitrova, 1998

CONTENTS

FOREWORD - Antonina Zhelyazkova
THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ADAPTATION OF BULGARIAN IMMIGRANTS IN TURKEY- Antonina Zhelyazkova
MOTIVATION OF THE BULGARIAN TURKS TO MIGRATION - Tsvetana Gheorghieva
BULGARIAN TURKISH IMMIGRANTS OF 1989 IN THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY - Donka Dimitrova
UNDERSTATED, OVEREXPOSED - Peter Krasztev
RELATION TO BULGARIA, THE BULGARIAN PEOPLE, AND THINGS BULGARIAN - Jale Hodja and Emil Milanov
Appendix 1

FOREWORD

The third volume of the cycle “The Fate of Muslim Communities in the Balkans” is dedicated to the Bulgarian Turks - refugees and immigrants in the Republic of Turkey. The field research in Bulgaria and Turkey had long been completed, but the authors of the study feared to start the publication of the texts, because each member of the team of scholars was well aware of how many emotions and passions he or she had put in them. The complicated and dramatic destiny of our exiled compatriots has burdened us with apprehensions, as well as with the huge responsibility towards all those people who had confided their experiences and reflections. We did the only wise thing possible - leaving the analyses and texts to “mature” and their authors to feel the beneficial influence of time distance.

The present publication “Between Adaptation and Nostalgia” could not be merely a traditional academic volume of meticulous scholarly studies. There was a great deal of personal tragedy involved in the events that accompanied emigration to Turkey. Severe violations of elementary human rights, political brinkmanship and irresponsibility lie behind the impassive statistical figures describing the tides of refugees in 1989. All this inevitably reflected on the accounts and evaluations given by the respondents about the events, as well as on the analyses of the researchers. Therefore, later reading and editing were extremely important in order to maintain maximum discretion with respect to the individuals who had confided to us their life dramas, in order to attenuate some extreme opinions concerning administrative powers, politicians and state governments on both sides of the border. And not because these assessments were unjustified, but for the fear we were filled with not to harm, for a second time, the people whose lives had anyway been recast against their own will.

One of the major objectives set by the initiators of the current cycle of research investigations has been retained in the third volume of the IMIR series - namely, to open the door to young scholars, to help them in their research endeavours and, finally, in a period of crisis, to let them see their first academic studies carried out and published. The young authors in this volume are Jale Hodja (Zheni Hadzhieva) and Emil Milanov. They met, talked with and interviewed their peers - university students whose parents had immigrated in Turkey, but who themselves had come back to Bulgaria to be educated at the Bulgarian universities and academies. The included materials by Jale Hodja and Emil Milanov are, in fact, their diploma papers for obtaining the corresponding academic degrees. At present, Jale Hodja continues her scholarly pursuits, advised by Prof. Faruk Shen, in Essen, while Emil Milanov is working on the problems of Bulgarian minorities abroad at the Ministry of Education and Science.

Young and talented is the ethnic Bulgarian from Hungary Peter Krasztev. He has written a great number of studies and books published in Hungarian, all of which display his exquisite pen and impressively mature philosophical and political analyses. Peter Krasztev is known to the Bulgarian readers from his analytical materials and essays published in the Kultura, Literaturen vestnik, and Literaturen forum weeklies, but it was time for him to contribute to a serious academic volume. His stay in Turkey, while doing field research, was also crowned with the production of a touching documentary devoted to exiles from Bulgaria and broadcast by the Hungarian national television. Now he works in Collegium “Budapest”.

The other three authors need not be introduced because they are already well-known to the academic circles.

Superabundant information is contained in the study presented by Donka Dimitrova whose sojourn among the Bulgarian immigrants in Turkey was longest. The author had also undertaken a not easy task of reviewing various sources of information in order to systematise the numerical data about emigration flows, about the specific features of the process of our compatriots’ settlement around their “motherland”, as well as about some characteristics of their economic and social adaptation. It is a real pleasure to read this text, which combines rich informativeness and strong affiliation in its approach to the deeper layers of nostalgia and the dramatic split of personalities torn away from their roots and native places.

Tzvetana Gheorghieva’s study on the motivation of the Bulgarian Turks to migration has a particular weight in this volume. Her study is focused on the personal strategy of the prospective emigrants. At the same time, it is concerned with the immigrants’ psychological response to the discrepancy between dream and reality. Life accounts and deliberations of failed emigrants, of persons overcome by the gnawing effect of nostalgia are intertwined with the hesitations, but also the hopes of young people whose eyes are now turned not so much to their “Anavatan”, but rather to Western Europe, where the long-craved-for self-assurance of equal citizens of Europe and the world, may be fully realised in practice.

The first study is introductory and, therefore, chronicles only briefly, without going into great detail, the destiny of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria from the Liberation until the present day, trying at the same time to interpret and grasp the permanent phenomenon of the Turks’ either being driven away from the country or themselves fleeing to “anavatan”. The historical retrospection is followed by an extensive analysis of the stages and patterns of adaptation of the immigrants to their new environment. Traced are the factors facilitating their economic and social adaptation, as well as those hampering their painless accommodation to the social structures of the new homeland. For the first time an attempt is made to determine those elements of the cultural and worldview patterns of the Bulgarian Turks, which they, being migrants, transfer from Bulgaria to Turkey, but some of which they have to suppress or entirely forget for the sake of their adjustment.

This volume is unique, since it represents a first endeavour to more comprehensively investigate the complex mechanisms of the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people at various ages leaving their birthplaces, in many cases, against their will. The studies included represent also initial attempts to get an insight into the individual and collective philosophy and psychology of a large number of people, of their efforts to settle in a new place, to preserve their identities and personalities and successfully adapt in the name of the future, overcoming the contradiction between expectations and reality in a different, though adjacent, world, which, in turn, is also being astonished by them.

The third volume of the series has been written and prepared to address, with much love, our fellow-countrymen, colleagues and friends, whom, de jure and de facto, we have lost, to let them know that we feel their absence in Bulgaria. Certainly, as researchers, who are expected to make prognoses, the authors believe that the lasting memories of and nostalgia for the native country, which most of the exiled immigrants have kept, will subside in the future, when the implications of the Balkan frontiers will separate us no more with the definiteness of the present day.

Antonina Zhelyazkova


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