Bulgarian Expats Snub President's Diaspora Summit

Society | September 13, 2012, Thursday // 17:49|  views

The expat conference, titled "Policies for Bulgarians Abroad," is to be held in Brussels under the patronage of Vice President, Margarita Popova (pictured). Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian emigrants in Europe and the US have lashed out at the Presidential Office over an upcoming summit in Brussels planned as their gathering and as a debate on the country's diaspora.

The conference, titled "Policies for Bulgarians Abroad," is to be held on November 7 and 8 in the capital of Belgium. It is organized by the Member of the European Parliament, Emil Stoyanov, under the patronage of Vice President, Margarita Popova.

The four main topics for debate are: "Preserving the National Identity of Bulgarians Abroad," "Studying Bulgarian Language and Literature in Bulgarian Schools Abroad," "Lobbying for Bulgaria," and "Social Practices Affecting Bulgarians Abroad."

Over 30 expat organizations have sent a letter to say they refuse to participate in such initiative, according to a report of the Bulgarian 24 Chassa (24 Hours) daily. The letter has 13 487 signatures from Bulgarians living in Germany, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, and Switzerland among many others.

The expats are outraged that the topics on the agenda do not include their priorities such as equal voting rights, eliminating discrimination practices for Bulgarians with dual citizenship, and improving the services of Bulgarian Consulates.

Bulgarians abroad further say they fail to understand the reasons behind having a 2-day-long conference to discuss something that would take about 6 work hours; why the location is Brussels and not Sofia; why the conference is being held in the middle of the workweek, limiting the access of many. They say an online forum would be fully sufficient for the goals of a similar initiative.

The diaspora have been further outraged by the intention of the Presidential Office to teach them how to preserve their national identity.

"This is offensive for us because the reasons that forced us to leave Bulgaria are not the lack of love for our homeland, but our disagreement with its economic, educational, cultural, and political development. For this reason, the topic of lobbyism is irrational because people who don't like something cannot lobby for it," the letter states.

24 Chassa cite their own sources informing that the idea to establish a Foundation for Bulgarians Abroad, whose leadership will be politically independent, has stirred the most outrage. The emigrants reject spending State and any other money on them, without being asked what their needs and priorities are.

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Tags: expats, conference, Policies for Bulgarians Abroad, Brussels, patronage, Vice President, Margarita Popova, Presidential Office, initiativa, Member of the European Parliament, Emil Stoyanov, emigrants, Bulgarians abroad, diaspora, state, relations, Agency, lobbying


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