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Hopes and unresolved problems of Bulgarians on Crete

Photo: iStock by Getty Images

A letter sent to us by the chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Crete – Peter Anastasov, has made us focus our attention on the problems of about 30,000 Bulgarians who have chosen the island of Crete as their home.

In an open letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bulgarian embassy in Athens and media, Anastasov describes the unresolved problems the community has been facing for years, as one of the most important issues is the need to open a consulate in the city of Heraklion. The need for such a service or more frequent consular visits is huge. Traveling to the Bulgarian embassy in Athens takes time and money and if one needed to renew documents, waiting for them to be prepared and delivered is a luxury that not everyone could afford.

Through the Bulgarian Association of Crete, Mr. Anastasov tries to help compatriots in any way possible:

"We were not very organized before but for 5 years we have been having our Bulgarian association. We have 4 Sunday schools in 4 cities on the island, 8 teachers and we teach more than 200 children. We also help the neighboring islands. All this is connected not only with teaching the Bulgarian language but also with additional activities. There is no representation of the Bulgarian state here and we are the ones whom people turn to when they need some help.”

The Bulgarian Association of Crete is quite active, organizing celebrations of traditional Bulgarian holidays, as well as the first Bulgarian fair on the island of Crete last year.

"With the exception of the subsidy received by the Ministry of Education and Science for Bulgarian Sunday schools, there is no policy to support local associations and organizations. The island of Crete is full of organizations developing cultural activities, but neither the Ministry of Culture nor the Presidency is showing any interest," the chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Crete says with bitterness and adds that the only thing received so far has been a box of old books from the embassy.

However, Bulgarians on Crete appreciate that the current leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been active towards opening new services and dynamising work with citizens.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library

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