After last month’s postmodern attempt to revise Bulgarian history, President Parvanov said he would back up a youth project for the writing of a common history of the Balkans. This was said at the presentation of a new French-German textbook of the history of Europe and the world after 1945 that took place in Sofia’s St. Kliment Ohridski University.
The writers of the textbook which is going to be used by students in both Germany and France wanted to show that they could freely talk about the inconvenient and difficult historical issues of the past of the two countries. Commenting on the possible Balkan history textbook, President Parvanov said that it was going to be a very difficult task and that “too many things would have to be made up in order to bridge over the controversies, and I am afraid this would make the textbook a very humble one because of the suppressed facts.”
The idea of “breaking stereotypes” is not new but has to be approached with care and an example of what happens if it is now was seen in the “Myth of Batak” publications we wrote about in our previous issue. Following up on this idea, during the past 10 years the phrase that describes the five hundred years of slavery, massacres and forcible conversion of Bulgarians by Ottoman Turks – Turkish slavery or the Ottoman yoke – has been replaced with “Ottoman presence”. The latter has of course caused the indignation of most history teachers as well as the average Bulgarian.
When asked by a representative of the Bulgarian National Radio, why in the new textbooks the word “bashi-bazouk” was not mentioned and why is there only one line of text about Stara Zagora where on July 31 1877 14,000 Bulgarians were slaughtered and another 1,000 taken into slavery, President Parvanov replied he was not the man to write the new history, but he would support a new reading of it.
“Bashi-bazouk” is Turkish for “damaged head” and was used for the irregular soldiers of the Turkish army who were not paid any salaries, but could plunder anything they could.