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Title: Bulgarization  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Greek Resistance, Military history of Greece during World War II, Axis occupation of Greece
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Bulgarisation (also known as Bulgarianisation; Bulgarian: побългаряване or българизация) is the spread of Bulgarian culture within various areas in the Balkans.

A number of government policies are considered to be examples of Bulgarisation, including the attempt of the former communist regime in 1980s to assimilate a Turkish minority living in Bulgaria and, more recently, allegedly similar efforts towards the Slavic-speaking people inhabiting Pirin Macedonia.[1][2][3] This view is refuted because the ethnic Macedonian identity and nationalism emerged in the 20th century outside Pirin Macedonia[4][5][6][7][8][9] and actually the local Slavic people in Pirin Macedonia have ever been Bulgarians since Middle Ages, with no other than Bulgarian self-identification, and de facto never been bulgarisated.[10][11][12][13]


During the Communist period of Bulgarian history, the Turkish minority (mainly in the south-east and north-east) of the country was forced to change their names from Turkish or Arabic to Bulgarian in 1984, during the Todor Zhivkov regime.This was known as the "Process of Rebirth" (Bulgarian: Възродителен процес - Vazroditelen protses). Turkish culture and language as well as Islamic beliefs were also suppressed. The argument was that the Turkish population of Bulgaria were allegedly Bulgarians forced to convert to Islam during the Ottoman rule.[14]

This violation of human rights met forceful resistance from large-scale protests, international pressure and cases of terrorism. After the collapse of the Zhivkov regime, people were free to revert to previous names or adopt new Islamic/Turkish names.

In 2003 the Islamic Human Rights Commission claimed that religious discrimination remained a major problem, but this has not been noted by other human rights organizations.


During the Second World War, Bulgaria shared in the triple occupation of Greece with its allies, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Bulgarian Army entered Greece on 20 April 1941 and eventually occupied the whole of northern Greece east of the Strymon River, except for most of Evros Prefecture on the border with Turkey, which was occupied by the Germans.[15] Parts of this territory - the Western Thrace region - had been part of Bulgaria between 1913 and 1919 (see Treaty of Bucharest), and were thus the target of Bulgarian irredentism. Bulgaria proceeded to restore her territories on 14 May 1941.[16]

Throughout the Bulgarian occupation zone, Bulgarian policy was to forcibly Bulgarise as many Greeks as possible and deport and expel the rest.[17][broken citation] A massive Bulgarisation campaign was launched right from the start, which saw all Greek officials (mayors, judges, lawyers and gendarmes) deported. The Bulgarians closed the Greek schools and expelled the teachers, replaced Greek clergymen with priests from Bulgaria, and sharply repressed the use of the Greek language: the names of towns and places changed to the forms traditional in Bulgarian.

Large numbers of Greeks were expelled and others were deprived of the right to work by a license system that banned the practice of a trade or profession without permission. Forced labour was introduced, and the authorities confiscated Greek business property and gave it to Bulgarian settlers.[17][broken citation] By late 1941, more than 70,000 Greeks had been expelled from the Bulgarian occupation zone,[18][broken citation][19] while many of the Bulgarian settlers had themselves fled the occupied territories following WWI.


According to Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, people from the Gagauz ethnic group remaining in Bulgaria were noted to have been Bulgarianised at the end of the 19th century.[20]


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