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Anton Kisse: Bulgarians in Ukraine seek to preserve their cultural identity, language and traditions

Photo: BGNES

A well respected Bulgarian newspaper recently carried information, published by the online Golos.ua to the effect that Bulgarians in Ukraine had demanded that President Poroshenko grant them territorial autonomy in Odessa and Kherson regions. The information was also circulated in press reviews by the TV morning shows and various websites.

To obtain information straight from the horse’s mouth, we talk to Anton Kisse, Chairman of the Association of Bulgarians in Ukraine, member of the Odessa Regional Council and Deputy-Chairman of the Council of National Associations with the President of Ukraine.

“I too am aware of the information that the Bulgarians from Kherson have such an initiative. I got in touch with them at once and the information proved to be false. There is no such initiative for an autonomy. How do things really stand? A week ago a meeting of the Council of Bulgarians in Ukraine took place in Zaporozhia at which we discussed the administrative-territorial reform and reached accord that the Bolhrad region must remain an administrative region with the town of Bolhrad as its centre, incorporating all adjoining villages as well as the other regions with a predominantly ethnic Bulgarian population. This is the demand we sent to Mr. Boyko Borissov, to President Rosen Plevneliev as well as to our own President Petro Poroshenko. We were assured that Mr. Poroshenko would give his support to the idea of an administrative region with Bolhrad as its centre.”

Mr. Kisse, could you elaborate on the question of autonomy?

“The situation in Ukraine is complicated and any autonomy claim breeds tensions, discontent and, let’s say, undesirable transformations, as has been the case in other countries. In a media appearance, Ukrainian President Poroshenko made it clear he was in favour of granting autonomy to the Crimean Tatars, in Crimea. After that Bulgarians, but also Romanians and Hungarians started commenting, saying they wanted amendments to the constitution of Ukraine on this matter. I myself am a member of the Constitution Committee, where we have been working towards having the rights of the small nations living in Ukraine re-examined, so they could create their own national cultural autonomy, preserve their language, traditions, customs and in this case – their Bulgarian history.  That is the matter explained, dear listeners of my ancestral country, Bulgaria. There is nothing else. We, Bulgarians in Ukraine have been following the situation closely and acting in accordance with the laws and the valid constitution of our country. And of course, preferences cannot be given to any nation. Conditions must be equal for all people in Ukraine, whatever their nationality", says Anton Kisse.

English version: Milena Daynova

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