Council of Europe's ECRI recommends that Bulgaria acknowledges the existence of Macedonians and Pomaks

January 27, 2004

European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance
Third report on Bulgaria

Adopted on 27 June 2003 made public on 27 January 2004

The following is an excerpt from ECRI's report. For the full text, please click the link above:

Vulnerable groups

46. The situation of the Roma community in Bulgaria is dealt with in the section on specific issues.

47. In its second report, ECRI asked the Bulgarian authorities to address the issue of the representation of the Turkish minority in Parliament and government. It is satisfied to note that substantial progress has been made in this area.

48. In its second report, ECRI also asked the Bulgarian authorities to address the concerns relating to the special military units to which Turkish and Roma conscripts are posted and the representation of these minorities among officers in the military.

49. ECRI is pleased to learn that the specialised military units in question have been closed down and that Roma and Turks now do their military service in ordinary units. It notes, however, that little progress has been made as regards the number of Roma and Turkish officers and in the army.

50. As far as the Turkish minority is concerned, ECRI observes that the situation is still improving with regard to the problems of discrimination and intolerance, even though substantial progress still needs to be made. It also notes that the large part of the Turkish minority live in a region particularly hard hit by the economic recession and social crisis and are financially and socially disadvantaged in comparison with the rest of the Bulgarian population.

Recommendations:

51. ECRI encourages the Bulgarian authorities to continue their efforts to improve the situation of members of the Turkish community in Bulgaria, particularly in respect of the protection of their economic, social and cultural rights.

52. In its second report, ECRI recommended that the Bulgarian authorities take steps to ensure that all minority groups in Bulgaria, including Macedonians, effectively enjoyed the right of peaceful assembly.

53. Progress has been reported from several sources as regards the right of peaceful assembly of Macedonians, although they sometimes encounter harassment. ECRI is concerned by reports that restrictions on freedom of association still exist4. It is also concerned about allegations of discrimination and acts of intolerance on the part of the authorities and members of the majority population against people who openly declare themselves to be Macedonians.

54. ECRI notes that Macedonians have expressed the desire that the Bulgarian state should better acknowledge their existence as a national minority.

Recommendations:

55. ECRI encourages the Bulgarian authorities to continue their efforts to improve the situation with regard to the right of peaceful assembly of all minority groups, including Macedonians.

56. ECRI also recommends that the Bulgarian authorities closely monitor allegations of discrimination and acts of intolerance against Macedonians and, if necessary, take steps to punish such acts.

57 Lastly, ECRI strongly recommends that the Bulgarian authorities establish a dialogue with the representatives of the Macedonians to find a solution to the tension that exists between this group and the authorities, but also between this group and the majority population, so as to enable them to live together and respect one another in the interests of all concerned.

58. There is a group of Muslim Bulgarians in Bulgaria who identify themselves as Pomaks, whose exact number is difficult to establish. According to some sources, the Pomaks are sometimes subject to discrimination, particularly in employment and higher education, because of prejudices against them on the part of the majority population.

59. Another problem raised by the representatives of the Pomak community is that they are often confused with members of the Turkish community in Bulgaria, because they are Muslims, like the latter. Pomak representatives have said that the Pomaks are Bulgarian-speaking Muslims who wish to identify themselves and be identified as such.

Recommendations:

60. ECRI recommends that the Bulgarian authorities closely monitor the allegations of discrimination and acts of intolerance against persons of Pomak origin and, if necessary, take steps to punish such acts.

61. ECRI also recommends that the Bulgarian authorities combat the stereotypes and prejudices that still exist against persons of Pomak origin and take steps to make the majority population aware of this problem.


       
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