News > Bulgarian Armenians > Burgas recognizes Genocide
By Elizabeth Boghossian
28 February 2008 will be remembered as a historical day for the Armenians in Burgas. On it’s sixth session, the City Council of Burgas recognized the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1922.
The Armenian Genocide was number one topic on the agenda. Thus Burgas became the second city after Plovdiv that considered the issue, after the refusal of Bulgaria’s National Assembly to take a categorical stand.
The proposal was initiated by Ataka party (right wing). The Declaration for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide will be sent to the National Assembly.
The Armenian Genocide was recognized with an overwhelming majority - 43 out of 48 council members declared their support, 2 representatives of the Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) voted against and 3 abstained from voting.
The members decided April 24th to be included in the cultural calendar of the Municipality of Burgas as Genocide Commemoration Day.
The group of Armenians, who were present at the session greeted the councilors decision with loud applause (see photos).
During the recognition session in the City Hall
After the recognition
Turkey Blocks EU Funds over Bulgaria's Burgas Recognition of Armenian Genocide
Source: "Sofia News Agency", 10 March 2008
Turkey's government declined to sign a EU-funded cooperation agreement with Bulgaria because of the decision of the city council in the Black Sea city of Burgas to recognize the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1922.
The funds blocked by Turkey under the PHARE Trans-border Cooperation Program amount to EUR 32 M, the Bulgarian private TV channel BTV reported. EUR 12 M of these are for the 2007-2009 period.
The agreement was supposed to be signed on 6 March 2008 by the district governors of the Bulgarian Burgas District, and the Turkish Edirne District but the meeting was canceled by the Turkish side.
"It is not within the authority of the Burgas City Council to take decisions on political matters, especially with regard to this issue as there is no consensus between Turkey and Armenia over it, and the interference by a third party will not be of any help", declared Turkey's General Consul in the city of Burgas on Sunday, March 9.
Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov
The Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov
also received Saturday a letter from the Edirne District Governor regarding Burgas City Council's decision to recognize the Armenian genocide stating: "This decision is offensive and we denounce it. Until it is canceled we will discontinue all social, cultural, and economic contracts with your district."
Mayor Nikolov, who is from the Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov's GERB party, expressed his surprise over Turkey's sharp reaction. He said the City Council was going to discuss the matter during its next session.
The Burgas City Council is dominated by members of the extreme right Ataka Party, and of the GERB party. On February 28 it voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, and declared April 24 Day of Remembrance.
Last week members of the rightist Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party of the former PM Ivan Kostov tabled a proposal for recognizing the Armenian Genocide to the city council in Bulgaria's capital Sofia.
Bulgaria's parliament has rejected similar motions by the rightist opposition several times, allegedly because of the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which is a junior partner in the governing three-way coalition.
Photo caption: The Mayor of Burgas Dimitar Nikolov said Sunday he was surprised by Turkey's reaction to the Burgas city council decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-22. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)
Burgas (sometimes transliterated as Bourgas) is the second-largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast with population 210,260. It is also the fourth-largest by population in the country, after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. It is the capital of Burgas Province and an industrial and tourist centre.
Burgas, unlike many other Bulgarian cities, was not much affected by Communist-type urbanization and has kept many of its 19th and early 20th century architecture. Today the local port is the largest in Bulgaria adding significantly to the regional economy. Burgas also holds annual national exhibitions and international festivals and has a vibrant student population of over 6,000 that add to the city's appeal. The historical society also maintains an open-air museum at Beglik Tash.
Several countries have consulates in Burgas, among them Turkey, Belarus, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
Aleksandrovska Street in Burgas is the main pedestrian
shopping street of the city (Photo: Georgy Petrov)