Bulgarians In Serbia Are Disappearing

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | January 12, 2024, Friday // 14:00
Bulgaria: Bulgarians In Serbia Are Disappearing

The Serbian newspaper "Danas" reports on the complexities surrounding the Bulgarian minority in Serbia. The latest population census indicates a notable decline in the Bulgarian community, raising concerns and prompting a closer look at the underlying factors contributing to this trend.

According to census data, the Bulgarian minority in Serbia currently stands at just under 13 thousand people, a stark contrast to the nearly 60 thousand reported in 1948. The most significant decline occurred between 1971 and 1991, but as "Danas" points out, the phenomenon of Bulgarians seemingly "disappearing" continues to this day.

Representatives of the Bulgarian community attribute this ongoing decline to a combination of emigration and a phenomenon termed "mimicry." Emigration is often explained as a response to economic challenges, particularly in the border regions of South-Eastern Serbia, where the majority of Bulgarians reside. These areas, marked by economic difficulties and limited employment opportunities, witness a notable outflow of individuals seeking better prospects elsewhere.

Interestingly, the report notes that Bulgaria's EU membership has also played a role in diminishing the number of Bulgarians in these border regions. The allure of improved opportunities abroad, coupled with the quest for a "better life," has led to increased emigration, contributing to the decline of the Bulgarian community in these areas.

Stefan Stoykov, Chairman of the National Council for the Bulgarian Minority, sheds light on the educational choices of Bulgarian youth in Serbia. He emphasizes that a significant percentage of Bulgarian youth, approximately 90 percent, pursue higher education at Bulgarian universities, hinting at a potential link between educational aspirations and emigration patterns.

Moreover, "Danas" features an article by Ivan Nikolov, Chairman of the Cultural and Information Center of the Bulgarians in Bosilegrad, who poses a poignant question. He questions the prevalence of "mimicry" or the concealment of Bulgarian origins in Serbia, contemplating whether it is a survival strategy in a context where defining oneself as Bulgarian may be perceived as challenging.

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Tags: Bulgarian, minority, emigration, Serbia

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