Models of state policy in regulating minority problems

A Bulgarian approach


  • Valery Stoyanov


Minority policy, models, identity, history, Balkans, Bulgaria, Moslems, Turks, Pomaks, Jews, Roma


In the policy of national states, there are four models for addressing ethnic problems:

(1) “liberation” of the minority through its physical destruction or eviction; (2) “dissociation” or segregation; (3) “incorporation” or integration; and (4) provision of full rights and freedoms, which, in turn, could facilitate disintegration. These four models can be seen in minority policy in Bulgaria. To one degree or another they have been applied to all kinds and groups of minorities, especially to those who were perceived as a possible threat to the national security. And because in the Balkans the nations are perceived as historically determined ethno-cultural constructions, the fear of the “other” grows with the increasing rate of its difference. That is why the state policy has always been focused on those ethno-confessional groups that stay most remote from the idea of the Bulgarian nation. This positioning shows that the contradictions on the axis “majority – minority” are realized mainly in the civilizational field – as a result of one apprehended as a different culture or way of life (Muslim vs. Christian, settled vs. nomadic, etc.). Hence arises the effort of the state to overcome them or, at least, to “soften” them. Of course, in a universal sense, every person is valuable, regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity, native language, or confessed religion. Before God we are all equal – pieces of energy in a material shell. But when you think with the categories of “nation” and “state,” of “us” and “them,” of “our” and “other” (i.e. “not our, alien”), these differences play a decisive role. Thus there is the striving for leveling them, and if it is impossible, for rejecting or deleting them, including by “removing” their bearers. This article makes an attempt to trace how these four models are reflected in the state policy of Bulgaria towards the national minorities and what role the religious factor plays.