The Forgotten 1989 Ethnic Cleansing of Bulgaria's Turks

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Talk for the Graduate School (Astra Program), organized by Dr Olaf Mertelsmann (Dept of History) and Dr Anastasiya Astapova (Dept of Russian)
Abstract: Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1989 communist Bulgaria unilaterally expelled over 360,000 Bulgarian citizens of Turkish (Muslim) origin to Turkey, or 4% of the country's population. It was the largest and most intensive act of ethnic cleansing in Cold War Europe. Despite the fact that this tragic event breached the Iron Curtain, no World War III followed. On the other hand, this ethnic cleansing brought about the end of communism in Bulgaria, and perhaps encouraged later acts of ethnic cleansing during the wars of Yugoslav succession. Curiously, despite the importance of this event, not a single article (let alone monograph) in any language was devoted to this ethnic cleansing until 2018, when T Kamusella's study Ethnic Cleansing During the Cold War (Routledge) was published.
Period18 Apr 2019
Held atUniversity of Tartu, Estonia
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Bulgaria
  • ethnic cleanisng
  • Turks
  • Muslims