Cities Across Bulgaria-Turkey Border at Odds over Park Name

Society | April 22, 2015, Wednesday // 18:34
Bulgaria: Cities Across Bulgaria-Turkey Border at Odds over Park Name

The Bulgarian city of Haskovo and its Turkish sister city of Edirne are freezing ties over Haskovo's grant the name Armentsi ("Armenians") to a park located on its territory.

The move, triggered by the Turkish side, was announced in official letter by Edirne Mayor Recep G?rkan, quoted by a Haskovo-based local news service

Haskovo and Edirne are lying on the respective sides of the Bulgarian-Turkish border, each located dozens of kilometers from the frontier.

"My affliction is not related to the name, but to the grounds on which it was chosen," G?rkan is quoted as writing in the letter dated April 21.

In the end of March, Haskovo's municipal council voted to rename a park located in the city after the "Armenians". The mayor of Edirne is now arguing that the occasion centenary of what a number of countries claim was "genocide" committed against Armenians on behalf of the Ottoman Empire.

In G?rkan's words, the choice of name is a result of a "unilateral, selective and divisive view of a period that is tragic for the entire population of the Ottoman Empire."

Haskovo's move is "met with a lot of disappointment by the entire population of Edirne," the letter reportedly reads further on.

As a result, Edirne is freezing the agreement under which it became a sister city to Haskovo and is also suspending economic, cultural, social and trade relations with the city.

Haskovo Mayor Georgi Ivanov said he neither intends to comment on the remarks of his colleague nor to respond.

Turkey disputes numbers of Armenian victims put forward by Armenians themselves and some historians, who claim up to 1.5 million people might have been killed.

The issue was recently raised by Pope Francis, who openly called the killings "the first genocide of the 20th century", sparking the anger of Ankara.

Bulgarian MPs, who are discussing the issue on Wednesday in Parliament after a long Easter recess, are due to adopt on Friday a position as to whether or not Sofia will recognize the genocide. 

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Tags: haskovo, Edirne, Recep G?rkan, Armenians, Armentsi, Bulgaria, turkey, Pope Francis
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