Bulgaria seeks to change Turkish place names

SOFIA, Bulgaria - One of Bulgaria’s municipalities plans to change the Turkish names of places to Bulgarian by the end of this year, as soon as council member's vote on a change.

As 40 percent of the geographical names in Bulgaria's southern city, Stara Zagora, are Turkish, the town’s municipality has established a committee, which will determine which places’ names should be changed.

The reason for the change is the difficult pronunciation of some of the names, according to Kristian Petkov, a member of the Internal Bulgarian Revolutionary Organization Party, a nationalist party.  

Stara Zagora is a nationally important economic center. It is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province. There are around 330,000 people living in Stara Zagora Municipality, of which at least 2,800 have declared themselves Turks, according to the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute. 

The Turks living in Stara Zagora have been criticizing the decision to change the Turkish names and say the Bulgarians should save the names as cultural richness and not ignore their values. 

Husni Ibrahim, the head of the Bulgarian Turk Rights and Freedom Movement Party, has opposed the name change and stated he would try to take action on the issue. 

Turks settled in Bulgaria in the late fourteenth century, during the conquest of the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire. They played an important part in the economic and cultural life of the region.

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