Twelve Turkish municipalities have severed ties with their Bulgarian sister cities, because the latter have classified the deaths of hundred of thousands of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 as genocide, Bulgarian National Radio said, citing Turkish-language newspaper Hürriyet.
The controversy started on October 4 2007, when Plovdiv’s municipality, then Bourgas and Stara Zagora, said the murder and forced deportation of Armenians was genocide. Those Bulgarian cities have traditionally been the home to generations of Armenian families. The events in question refer to April 24 1915, when a number of Armenian intellectuals and prominent community leaders were arrested in Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, the military uprooted many ethnic Armenians from their homes, making them march to the desert of what is now Syria. The people in this forced exodus were subjected to torture and annihilation.
The other nine Bulgarian municipalities that have sister city partnerships with Turkish cities have not yet officially stated their position on the issue.
Hürriyet said that the act of protest conformed to an ordinance issued by the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs, dated July 18, 2008. Cities like Bursa, Kırklareli and Adapazari severed ties with Plovdiv, Shoumen and Dobrich, respectively. As of now, all mutual agreements for partnership have been called off.
However, recently in Edirne, a forum was launched with the participation of “young Thracians” from Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. More than 50 people from Yambol, Haskovo and Kurdjali were participating, Bulgarian National Radio said.