site.btaSofia Meeting Marks 104th Anniversary of Treaty of Neuilly, Voices Concern over Rights of Bulgarians in Eastern Serbia
A meeting in Sofia marked the 104th anniversary of the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Attending were public figures and representatives of the Bulgarian community in Eastern Serbia.
Signed in France in 1919 by Bulgarian Prime Minister Alexander Stamboliiski, with the Treaty Bulgaria, which was on the losing side in WW I, lost a territory of 11,278 sq km, including areas in what is now Eastern Serbia (widely referred to as "Western Outlands" in Bulgaria). The country was also denied the right to have its own navy and air force, and its armed forces were reduced to 20,000 volunteers. The impact of the Treaty on Bulgaria went down in history as "Second National Catastrophe".
Among the speakers at the Tuesday forum were the chair and deputy chair of the Western Outlands Civil Committee, Prof. Lozan Mitev and Dr Valentin Yanev, the head of the Bosilegrad Culture and Information Centre, Ivan Nikolov, writer and former diplomat Edvin Sougarev, and the chairman of the Glas Association in Eastern Serbia, Alexander Dimitrov.
The speakers shared a bitterness and concern over what they called "intense processes of de-bulgarization and depopulation" of Eastern Serbia resulting from a lack of will among the Serbian authorities to ensure normal conditions so that the Bulgarian people can continue to live in their native land.
Also, they criticized the official Bulgarian authorities for failing to protect the rights and interests of the Bulgarians in Eastern Serbia.
The speakers also expressed concern by the increasingly frequent persecution of activists of Bulgarian organizations, a recent search at the Bosilegrad Culture and Information Centre, the confiscation of books by Edvin Sougarev and the launch of pre-trial proceedings against Ivan Nikolov for "inciting national, racial and religious animosity".
The participants in the forum decided to send a declaration on the violation of the rights of Bulgarians in Eastern Serbia to the EU institutions and ask them to interfere to back the Bulgarian minority in Serbia.