ACCEPT PLURALISM Bulgarian Launch Event
Tolerance And Cultural Diversity Discourses In Bulgaria:
Bulgarian Ethnic Model – Parallel Cohabitation or Multicultural Recognition?
Sofia, 25 November 2010
Hotel “Central,” Hristo Botev blvd 52
The International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (IMIR) has organised the launch event of the Accept Pluralism project in Sofia, Bulgaria, on November 25, 2010 at the conference room of the Hotel Central.
32 people attended the event (11 academic; 6 members of NGO/civil society, 5 officials from state institutions; 2 journalists; 8 citizens – including 5 representatives of immigrant community)
Maya Kosseva presented the project, the context of the planned research and outlined why the topic of the project is especially important for the current situation in Bulgaria, where populist and nationalistic political parties have been gaining popularity over the recent years. She presented the international consortium IMIR is a part of and defined the objectives of the project. She also outlined the timeframe and highlighted the main stages of the research work, together with the planned outcomes. She invited the audience to keep their interest in the project and follow the developments on the Accept Pluralism web site.
Marko Hajdinjak presented the report of the “Tolerance and Cultural Diversity Challenges in Bulgaria.” He focused on the following questions: are Bulgarians truly as tolerant as they usually perceive themselves to be; who and what is tolerated in Bulgaria and what are the manifestations of tolerance/intolerance in the country.
Maya Grekova presented a report on “Discrimination as a Social Practice in Bulgaria.” Her report focused on the cases of discrimination on gender and ethnic grounds, and especially on double discrimination – women belonging to ethnic minorities are most often victims of such discrimination. Grekova assessed the existing legal and political framework for combating discrimination, and evaluated the social sensitivity regarding intolerant and discriminative practices.
Tanya Mangalakova presented her research and a short documentary film on mixed marriages between ethnic Bulgarians and ethnic Turks. Giving her presentation the title “A Needle in the Haystack,” she underlined that such marriages are exceptionally rare in Bulgaria because of the enormous social pressure and intolerant attitudes of both communities – Bulgarian and Turkish.
After the presentations, a lively debate followed. Some of the guests in the audience said that certain conclusions in the reports were too critical and harsh, while others agreed that the Bulgarian society is becoming less tolerant towards those who are different. This view was especially supported by several immigrants, who attended the event and who shared that they have a number of intolerance-related problems in their daily lives – from discrimination on the employment market to abuse and physical violence on the streets.
Chair: Antonina Zhelyazkova, IMIR
14.40 – 15.00 “Presentation of the project ACCEPT PLURALISM: Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century in Europe,” Maya Kosseva, IMIR
15.00 – 15.20 “Tolerance and Cultural Diversity Challenges in Bulgaria,” Marko Hajdinjak, IMIR
15.20 – 15.40 “Discrimination as a Social Practice in Bulgaria,” Maya Grekova, Sofia University
15.40 – 16.00 “Mixed Marriages in Bulgaria – a Needle in a Haystack” (a documentary film), Tanya Mangalakova, journalist
16.00– 16.30 Discussion