50 Sign Founding Declaration of New Bulgarian 'Pomak' Party
50 people signed Sunday in Plovdiv a founding declaration for a new party related to a minority of Muslim ethnic Bulgarians.
The declaration listed the aims of the new formation titled Patriotic Union for Diversity, Authenticity and Culture (POMAK), according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA).
The initiative committee was supposed to meet at noon, but only 37 people were in attendance then, against a statutory minimum of 50.
Efrem Mollov, Chair of the European Institute Pomak, informed that the constituent assembly of the party, scheduled to take place in three months, was expected to be attended by some 2500 people, against the statutory requirement for a minimum of 500.
He insisted that the new party would not divide people on a religious or ethnic principle and the abbreviation had nothing to do with the pomak ethnicity.
Mollov said he could not rule out attempts at blocking the registration of the party, adding, however, that Bulgaria's judiciary could not afford that because all steps for the establishment of the entitu were transparent for Bulgarian people and Europe.
He said that this had been the third attempt over the past five years to create a political party with that abbreviation.
Mollov, as cited by the Focus news agency, said that the party was "nothing new, or bad, under the sun," but its establishment had stirred a stunningly loud public outcry and debates.
"So far, pomaks voted for liberal party Movement for rights and Freedoms (DPS) in regions like the Rhodope Mountains. At the last but one election, DPS scored 18 000 votes there, at the past elections they were supported by 10 000, and at the next election, DPS will no longer have any votes in the region," Mollov declared.
In an interview for the BGNES news agency, Mollov assured that the new party would run at the MEP elections in Bulgaria in the spring of 2014.
"Pomaks" is an exonym to name Slavic-speaking citizens in Bulgaria and neighboring countries who are traditionally Muslim.
In Bulgaria, their population, numbering some 200,000 people, is predominantly concentrated in the central north and the Rhodope Mountains in the south.
They prefer to label themselves as 'Bulgarian-Muslims', not Pomaks.
The Bulgarian Constitution prohibits the establishment of parties based on ethnicity or religion.
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Pomaks are not officially recognized as an ethnicity in Bulgaria.
Although Pomaks are an ethnicity, this is not officially recognized by now.
That is why it would be really very surprizing if the registration of Party POMAK is refused based on the argumentation of ethnicity.
"They prefer to label themselves as 'Bulgarian-Muslims', not Pomaks."
This wrong sentence was also used in the previous news article about this subject. Everybody calls them "Pomaks" whether in Bulgarian and in another language. The only reference to them as Bulgarian-Moslems is in the official statements. Which is a denial of their ethnic identity. They feel they are not fairly treated in this country and they want to defend their rights.