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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 leadership in the 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 disputed 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 always been Bulgarians since Middle Ages, with no other than Bulgarian self-identification, and de facto never could have been bulgarisated.[10][11][12][13]


During the Communist period of Bulgarian history, the Turkish minority (mainly across Bulgaria's east) of the country were forced to change their names from Turkish or Arabic to Bulgarian in 1984, during Todor Zhivkov's rule. Back then, as well as nowadays, the supporters of this policy refer to it as the "Process of Rebirth" (Bulgarian: Възродителен процес, Vǎzroditelen proces), while critics call it "the so-called Vǎzroditelen proces". 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 project met forceful resistance in the form of large-scale protests, international pressure and cases of terrorism. After the end of Communist rule, people were free to revert to previous names or adopt the names they wished, Arabic/Turkish or other. Some people continued using both names.[15]

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.[citation needed]


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.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20150214150611/http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/bulgaria/report-2007
  2. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20150214150611/http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/bulgaria/report-2008
  3. ^ 1999 report of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
  4. ^ Krste Misirkov, On the Macedonian Matters (Za Makedonckite Raboti), Sofia, 1903: "And, anyway, what sort of new Macedonian nation can this be when we and our fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers have always been called Bulgarians?"
  5. ^ Sperling, James; Kay, Sean; Papacosma, S. Victor (2003). Limiting institutions?: the challenge of Eurasian security governance. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7190-6605-4. Macedonian nationalism Is a new phenomenon. In the early twentieth century, there was no separate Slavic Macedonian identity 
  6. ^ Titchener, Frances B.; Moorton, Richard F. (1999). The eye expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-520-21029-5. On the other hand, the Macedonians are a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimize their precarious present as they attempt to establish their singular identity in a Slavic world dominated historically by Serbs and Bulgarians. ... The twentieth-century development of a Macedonian ethnicity, and its recent evolution into independent statehood following the collapse of the Yugoslav state in 1991, has followed a rocky road. In order to survive the vicissitudes of Balkan history and politics, the Macedonians, who have had no history, need one. 
  7. ^ Kaufman, Stuart J. (2001). Modern hatreds: the symbolic politics of ethnic war. New York: Cornell University Press. p. 193. ISBN 0-8014-8736-6. The key fact about Macedonian nationalism is that it is new: in the early twentieth century, Macedonian villagers defined their identity religiously—they were either "Bulgarian," "Serbian," or "Greek" depending on the affiliation of the village priest. ... According to the new Macedonian mythology, modern Macedonians are the direct descendants of Alexander the Great's subjects. They trace their cultural identity to the ninth-century Saints Cyril and Methodius, who converted the Slavs to Christianity and invented the first Slavic alphabet, and whose disciples maintained a centre of Christian learning in western Macedonia. A more modern national hero is Gotse Delchev, leader of the turn-of-the-century Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), which was actually a largely pro-Bulgarian organization but is claimed as the founding Macedonian national movement. 
  8. ^ Rae, Heather (2002). State identities and the homogenisation of peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 278. ISBN 0-521-79708-X. Despite the recent development of Macedonian identity, as Loring Danforth notes, it is no more or less artificial than any other identity. It merely has a more recent ethnogenesis - one that can therefore more easily be traced through the recent historical record. 
  9. ^ Zielonka, Jan; Pravda, Alex (2001). Democratic consolidation in Eastern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 422. ISBN 978-0-19-924409-6. Unlike the Slovene and Croatian identities, which existed independently for a long period before the emergence of SFRY Macedonian identity and language were themselves a product federal Yugoslavia, and took shape only after 1944. Again unlike Slovenia and Croatia, the very existence of a separate Macedonian identity was questioned—albeit to a different degree—by both the governments and the public of all the neighboring nations (Greece being the most intransigent) 
  10. ^ Who are the Macedonians? Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-85065-534-0, p. 19-20.
  11. ^ Средновековни градови и тврдини во Македонија, Иван Микулчиќ, Македонска академија на науките и уметностите — Скопје, 1996, стр. 72.
  12. ^ Formation of the Bulgarian nation, Academician Dimitŭr Simeonov Angelov, Summary, Sofia-Press, 1978, pp. 413-415.
  13. ^ Center for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe, Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE) - "Macedonians of Bulgaria", p. 14.
  14. ^ Briefing: Bulgaria’s Muslims: From Communist assimilation to tentative recognition, Islamic Human Rights Commission
  15. ^ Legal Problems Arising of Using Both the Turkish and Bulgarian Name
  16. ^ Les Gagaouzes Etat des recherches et bibliographie = The Gagauz Research and bibliography