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Bulgarian Gagaouzes. Ethnic and Social Enigma

Dr. Roumiana Chukova


    Bulgarian Gagaouze community remains a serious theoretical challenge for Bulgarian nation ethnic and religious issues as well as for its State building process. The multitude of Gagaouze origin and identity concepts provokes significant ambiguities for the official historiography and the minority studies. In the mean time, this small number group is still continuing to generate ideas and behavioral traditions so as to transformed itself in reliable source of imitation in reference to their numerous confreres in Moldavia. As Bulgarians and their State played the role of ideological source for the Russians during the Middle Ages as Bulgarian Gagaouzes innovated cultural and spiritual constructions based on age-old community traditions in regard to whole Gagaouzes settled Black Sea region.

    The Gagaouzes in Bulgaria set up as specific sub-ethnic community within Bulgarian nation framework. Certainly, it remains distinguishable part from the large local multiethnic mosaic in comparison with the other more numerous traditional ethnoses. As a whole, its original mark is the non-traditional combination between language, religion and ethnic self-determination feelings. The Gagaouzes confess Christian Orthodox religion, speak Turkish language and are holders of Bulgarian ethnic self-determination feelings and culture. The above mentioned quite strange mixture of collective social determinants guesses their relative isolationism and obstructionism in regard to the other ethnic groups that they are forced to co-exist, regardless they are Christian or Muslim confession.

Geographic spread and migration waves

    The concerned community is part of widely spread Gagaouze Diaspora, which includes Bulgarian regions Dobroudja and Deliorman as well as Eastern Thrace, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Moldavia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. In outline, this ethnic group settled compactly Northeast Bulgaria and concentrated in few main places situated on Black Sea coast (between Varna and Kavarna) and around the towns of Silistra, Shumen, Provadia and Novi Pazar.

    Crucial political and military events pushed Bulgarian Gagaouzes to migrate through several considerable external and internal waves. In practice, it is quite difficult to fixe the exact period that happened. During the wars between Russia and Turkey in the second half of 18-th century and especially during the Balkan wars (1912-1913) occurred significant Gagaouze settlements in new places. The first compact wave was oriented towards North Dobroudja, Bessarabia and Moldavia, i.e. the Motherland territories where sheltered Proto-Bulgarian tribe leaded by khan Asparuh, the founder of Bulgarian State. As a matter in fact, the migration wave in 1811-1812 had been evaluated as the most important. Indeed, during the last years of the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria the authorities facilitated the settlement of kindred Turk ethnic groups (Tartars, Gircassians, etc…) in the areas the Gagaouzes left from. They aimed to shift Northeast Bulgaria ethnic and religious profile.

    In the mid - 30-th of 19-th century an important Gagaouze flux had been witnessed towards the Crimean Peninsula, especially towards the regions of Odessa and Donetzk resulting from the economic and cultural uplift appropriate for the Bulgarian Enlightenment period (18-19-th century). Unfortunately, later, Stalin was keen to "direct" the ethnic borders shifting process and the forced subsidiary migration did not omit the newcomers. The Gagaouzes shared the destiny of Bulgarians in Ukraine, Moldavia and Caucasus after had been subjected to an ethnic genocide and respectively re-settled Kazakstan and Kyrghistan. It is worthy to mention that according to the Russian Imperial archives the Gagaouzes were registrated as "Bulgarians who speak Turkish language". Later they felt considered as separate ethnic community. It seems that the process of breaking the ties with Bulgarian ethnos was planed political step because on 30-th July 1957 the Presidium of Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic approved edict resulting in establishment of Gagaouze alphabet. In this way, the Soviets pretended to push forward the process of original Gagaouze ethnic culture.1

    An alternative permanent migration wave was oriented to the South. Probably, during the second half of 19-th century and resulting from grim economic conditions the Gagaouzes descended on South Thrace (Edirne and Aegean Sea coast) as well as on Macedonia. By the way, the problem of Thracian Gagaouzes' issues and migration remains quite questionable. According to N. Robev immediately after the Ottomans descended on the Balkans in 14-th century the Gagaouzes and the Bulgarian speaking "ruptzians" from Eastern Thrace were pushed out Strandja mountain region.2 Approximately two centuries later the both mentioned ethnic groups settled gradually the rural areas around Lozengrad (Kirklareli), Luleburgaz and Malko Tarnovo. The Balkan wars also provoked the consecutive ethnic dislocation as far as separate groups issued from Edirne and Aegean Sea coast re-settled North Thrace (Stara Zagora, Yambol, Elhovo, Burgas and Haskovo) and set up several Gagaouze villages. Another part of the above mentioned group remained settled in South Thrace where had been submitted to cultural and linguistic assimilation by the Greek authorities, while these who spread throughout European part of Turkey (about ten thousands) instinctively "capsulated" themselves. According to Lausanne Peace Treaty (1923) the Gagaouzes (Christian confession) from Eastern Thrace had to migrate to Aegean Sea Thrace3 and Macedonia (especially to the district of Zahnen).4

    Third wave of Bulgarian Gagaouzes reached the West and the Southwest Macedonian territories and built again ethnically "capsulated" agglomerations. They continued to speak Turkish language, but felt strongly influenced by the local Albanian folklore. Therefore, some researchers called them "Albanian-Gagaouzes".5 In this way, those emigrated Bulgarian Gagaouzes preserved their community self-determination feelings, but they lost some linguistic and cultural characteristics of the original ethnic identity. Par example in contemporary Greece the Gagaouzes remember their roots, but they adopted the imposed Greek language resulting from the permanent and total assimilation.

    The current statistics do not provide unconditional knowledge about Gagaouze community number in Bulgaria. For sure, we may stress that they are small number ethnic group, which endeavored zealously to keep it monolith. Despite their efforts in 1910 Bulgarian Gagaouzes were 36 056,6 while by the end of the 70-th of 20-th century they decreased into about 40 000.7 During the last decade the erosive tendency had been maintained in unison with other local minorities demographic outlines. According to the census in 1992 only 1 468 persons declared themselves Gagaouzes.8

    In outline, Bulgarian historical science is leaning to admit of Bulgarian ethnic territory remains Gagaouze symbolic Motherland as well as its heart is the area situated between Balchik and Kavarna.

Ethimological background and ethnic issue theories

    The ethnonime "Gagaouze" ethimological background remains irreversibly related to the theoretical constructions drafted for enlightening this unique community issue. The both problems are still disputable on substantial and interpretative level as well as on chronological and descriptive level. It is available to both Bulgarian and international historical researches. On some extent, in aiming to schematize Gagaouze origin approaches we may classify the following presumptive explanatory concepts:

  1. "Gagaouze" is an ironic term that Bulgarian Slavic speaking majority attached to the concerned community. Probably, the name Gagaouzi - pl. (Gaganik - m and Gaganitza - f) was related to the incomprehensible for the Slavic speaking Turkish language.9

  2. Another group scholars focused on sources provided from the ordinary conditions of life of the Gagaouze community. The name Gagaouze is issued from "gaga - s (ous)" (Don't talk, close your mouth).10 This idiomatic expression had been perceived as some type of mobilization password or instinctive reaction among the Turkish speaking Bulgarians in Southeast Bulgaria against the pressure on linguistic level during the last years of the Ottoman rule. The concept under consideration remains tangential to the explanation that Gagaouze community provides for its own ethnic issue. It may be summarized by the short sentence: "We abandon the language, but we keep the faith." It is absolutely the inverse case in reference to the Pomak community set-up.

  3. The Gagaouzes belong to the family of the Turk-Altaic peoples. The ethnonime "Gagaouze" is referred to the "Ouzi" or "Oguzi" ethnic identity. It means that the community is Turk issue, but Christian confession (like the Oguzi)11 or it is referred only to one family of the big "Oguzi" tribe. In the same time, on linguistic level the word Gagaouze is considered to be combination between "Ouz" interpreted as short expression of "Oguz", while "Gag" is issued from "Gek" or "Gok" that means the tribe flanks.12

    It is worthy to define more precisely some items on substantial and chronological level before gaining into an insight the Gagaouze ethnic issue.

    Firstly, the Ottoman sources that Bulgarian historians dial with did not mention the ethnonime "Gagaouze". According to the above mentioned archives Bulgarian population was classified depending on the confessed religion - Christianity or Islam. During the second half of the 19-th century the Ottoman registers were still denying the existence of the word "Gagaouze", regardless its frequency in the Bulgarian and Russian chronicles. The example with Geleb Keshar register written in 1573-1574 is quite interesting.13 Undoubtedly, the agglomerations that the attention of an anonymous author was attracted by were Gagaouze villages spread in Varna region - Kavarna, Uzgubenlik, Sugudjouk-I-Kuberan, etc… All of them were qualified "Christians" and "Raya" unlike the neighboring village population Sugudjouk-I-Muslim that was described as "Tartars". Moreover, the Ottoman archivists did not mention the existence of Turkish speaking population in Kavarna and Balchik, the symbolic heart of "Gagaouzeland". Obviously, a very important circumstance for the Ottoman administration criteria was the payment of "djizie" tax by the Gagaouzes. Therefore, those people felt in "Raya" stratification category and did not differ from Bulgarians who suffered from the same fiscal burdens.

    The Russian scholars mentioned for the first time the ethnonime "Gagaouze". Only few years later this terminological innovation succeeded to be transferred into Bulgarian publicist and academic writings. In 1853 Academician P. fon Koeppen stressed in his report in Russian Academy of Sciences in regard to Bulgarians settled in Bessarabia that "some of them are Turkish speaking and they came from Varna region, especially from Dobroudja. Those people call themselves Gagaouzes."14 Koeppen's hypothesis became very popular and gradually the beginning Bulgarian historians adopted it because they felt deeply influenced by the Russian historiography on theoretical level. Already, in 1859 Bulgarian historical review "Bulgarian leaflets" commented some aspects of Gagaouzes' life in South Bessarabia as like newcomers from Dobroudja. During the 60-th of 19-th century Varna chroniclers discussed the local Gagaouze community number and charactersistics including the problem of its national identity. They attempted to impose a romantic idea about it among Bulgarian public opinion by underling that the Gagaouzes were inseparable part of Bulgarian people during the Second Bulgarian State (1186-1396). Also during the Ottoman rule they lost the mother tongue and gradually Turkized themselves. The following description is quite indicative: "Orphans of our Bulgarians died for honor and dignity by defending Bulgarian State of that time…The others (the younger) are sons of Bulgarian settlers from other Bulgarians towns, married local women and totally ignored Bulgarian language…"15

    In 1864 the famous Bulgarian ethnographian and historian I.Ivanov imposed the ethnonime "Bulgarian Gagaouzes"16 usage within the academic literature in aiming to emphasize and to urge on an appropriate ethnic identity of the considered community. According to his well-structured hypothesis the forced migration beyond the Motherland compelled the Gagaouzes to opt Turkish language instead of the Bulgarian one. Later, another bright ethnologist and linguist Professor L. Miletic classified the Gagaouze ethnic group into "Domestic Bulgarian Gagaouzes" and "Hassal - Coastal Gagaouzes" (Varna, Balchik and Kara Kurt (Dobrich). The last were pointed out as the true Gagaouzes.17 In this way, he tried to dissociate the autochthonous Gagaouzes from the settlers who left Bulgarian ethnic territory. The first group Gagaouzes sympathized with Bulgarians, married Bulgarian women and in practice did not differ too much from Bulgarian ethnos, while the Hassal-Gagaouzes kept aside from Bulgarians and held on to the Greek ethnic mentality.

    The multi-spectral problems of Bulgarian Gagaouze community ethnogenese have to be analyzed in wider context. We have to seek the answer to the question whether this ethnic group is part of Bulgarian nationality or it is better to be classified as external component and alien ethnos, which just co-exist within the local multi-ethnic society because of its Turkish language? Merely, the concerned matter is related to the detailed explanation of the both Turkish speaking and Muslim confessing communities in Bulgaria. The key approach remains the comparative analysis of the distinguishable marks of the ethnic originality: issue, historical destiny, language, religion, culture, ethnic self-determination feelings, etc… Indisputably, the Gagaouze community is product of enduring ethnic and cultural evolution process developed within alien ethnic (in regard to the Gagaouzes) framework that was accompanied by foreign political and external cultural pressure.18

    The Gagaouze group wins recognition as irreproachable sample for interweaving the individual and the collective factors during the overall historical process as well as the mixture between diverse Eurasian ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural influences. The concerned ethnic and social dynamism occurs in such corner of the world that the international academic thought called "corridor of the History" or "Scene of the clash of civilizations". On the one hand, on some extent, the above mentioned circumstances unravel the wide pluralism of Gagaouze issue theories as far as every one of them encompass its own argumentation means and approaches. On the other hand, the theoretical diversity is due to the lack of enough trustworthy writing sources, moreover Bulgarian and international political historians had never carefully studied the existing one.

    As far as Bulgarian academic researches in the field are concerned we add the following supplemental reasons for the existence of multitude of often-contradictory theories:

  1. In outline, linguists (Turkish philology and folklorists) had realized most of the researches in question. They failed to made in-depth analysis and felt through providing a comprehensive explanation of the multi-spectral nature of the Gagaouze phenomena. Especially, it is applied for the periodization process. Only the current studies succeeded to provide some new aspects and facts related to the Middle Ages period that facilitated and stimulated the correction of the firstly innovated theoretical constructions.

  2. The Gagaouze issue explanation and the Gagaouze community development process as autochthonous population runs into some historiographical postulates such as the early Slavonization theory and the Proto-Bulgarian ethnic component assimilation during the period 9-10 century. In more details, the launched hypothesis emphasized the early establishment of Gagaouze community resulting from the conservation of non-Slavonized Proto-Bulgarians families Christianized under the official Bulgarian State policy. In the end of 19-th century the first Bulgarian medievalists (M.Drinov and V. Zlatarski) denied the above mentioned hypothesis and imposed as indisputable theoretical axiom the theory of the total and unquestionable Slavinization of whole Proto-Bulgarians. They had been influenced by the ideas of the Russian historical school. It happened that on theoretical level this "Proto-Bulgarian" hypothesis was forced permanently to "clash" with Slavophilist concept.

    In general, we may classify the main theories for Gagaouze ethnic issue, including their ramifications in several groups, as follows:

  1. The Gagaouzes are inseparable part of Bulgarian nation. During the Ottoman period they lost the mother tongue and adopted the Turkish language, but conserved the Christian religion;

  2. Proto-Bulgarian tribe issue;

  3. Diverse Turk tribes' origin issued from ethnic groups settled in the Balkans during the late Turk-nomad migration during 11-13-th century period. Within this conceptual framework we may classify the assertions that the Gagaouzes are issued from the Kumans, Karakalpaks as well as they are ethnic heirs of the Ouzis or may be of the Seldjouk Turks migrated to Dobroudja and North Bulgarian Black Sea coast in 13-th century.

    The first type concepts are entirely based on the autochthonous Bulgarian ethnic character of the Gagaouzes. During the Ottoman rule (1396-1878) those ethnic Bulgarians were forced to adopt the Turkish language, but conserved the Christian faith, the traditional Bulgarian cultural identity and self-determination feelings. As we had mentioned, it was the foremost theoretical framework supported by G.S. Rakovski, I. Ivanov, L. Miletic, etc…Later, V. Marinov, D. Angelov and E. Boev had followed up this logic. It is quite obvious that the proofs selected by those predominantly Turkish philology specialists are essentially founded on linguistic matter. They built the hypothesis on the assertion that the specificity of the Gagaouze dialect is explicitly influenced by Bulgarian language on phonetic, grammatical and phraseological level. So, the Gagaouze language remains secondary shaped Turkish dialect adopted in later times, during the age-old Gagaouze community development.19 Thus, E. Boev generalized that the Gagaouze population is inseparable part of Bulgarian nationality. According to his opinion this ethnic group is keen to determinate itself as Bulgarian as well as the other ethnoses perceive and evaluate it by the same way.

    The Turk issue theories dispose with more numerous followers and supporters. Often within the group we witness conceptual constructions that seriously felt in logical contradiction between them. Certainly, the Turk theories largely dominated Bulgarian Liberal historiography period (1878-1944). They became the mainstreamed topic within the leading academic discussion about the Proto-Bulgarian civilization role in Bulgarian Statehood tradition as well as relationship building process with the Slavic ethnos. So, all local famous medievalists and Turkish language specialists found them forced to share their personal point of view about the Gagaouze problem.

    Firstly, the so-called "Kumanian" theory rose. Basically, it was developed and popularized by the group of the so-called historians-Slavists K. Irechek, M.Drinov, Iv. Shishmanov, H. Doktorov, etc…Those authors were seeking coherent ties with the Gagaouze community based on Bulgarian and Byzantine sources (especially the evidence of Anna Komnina) bearing in mind the flux of Kuman and Pecheneg tribes in the region of Little Skitia (Dobroudja) during the period 11-13 century. The last became important internal factors within Bulgarian political life. In addition, the hypothesis was strengthened by proofs of the regional toponymy, epigraphic tracks and anthroponymy. In the mean time, the leading proving approach was oriented towards enlightenment of the word "Gagaouze" ethimological background and clarification of the relationship between "Ouzi"-"Oguzi"-"Kumans"-"Turks".20 Bulgarian historian G. Dimitrov extended the above-mentioned ethnic range with the ramification "Ouzi"-"Gagaouzes"- "Uzbeks".21 As a matter in fact, the so called "Kumanian" theory reached a very serious criticism from outstanding medievalists (V. Zlatarski and P. Mutafchiev) as well as from contemporary philologists (E. Boev).

    It is worthy also to mention the intermediate theories for Proto-Bulgarian - Kumanian issue of the Gagaouzes (S. Bobchev, A. Ishirkov). Those scholars developed the hypothesis that late Kuman, Pecheneg, Avar and Tartar ethnic "alluviums" were accumulated upon the original Proto-Bulgarian substratum facilitated by linguistic and cultural ties of kindred between the both Turk ethnic communities.

    The "Proto-Bulgarian" theory got a footing in the local academic circles by the end of 19-th century. Prior to mid-20-th century it was adopted and developed by wide-range of outstanding historians working in the field of Bulgarian studies. For the first time, the brothers K. and H. Schkorpil, Czech archeologists conceptualized this trend. They conducted their activities in Southeast Bulgaria, especially in Varna region. The Czech scholars attempted to prove the compact existence of significant Proto-Bulgarian ethnic community spread throughout Dobroudja and Deliorman bearing in mind the analysis of appropriate epigraphic tracks and archeological materials from the First Bulgarian State period (681-1018). It seems that the population resistance against the Christianization process implemented by the State in that moment remained the most important and crucial consequences in Western Deliorman.22 Probably, the locals opted the Islam because this religion had been evaluated closer to their polytheistic confession. Inversely, the Eastern Proto-Bulgarians strongly influenced by Byzantine traditions and culture that were in practice in the Black Sea coastal agglomerations chose the Christianity. In this way, the Proto-Bulgarian group split up on religious mark in Gadjali (Muslims) and Gagaouzes (Christians), unlike on linguistic criterion, as the both communities were Turkish speaking. K. Schkorpil stressed that the Proto-Bulgarians remained in violent opposition to the dominating trend of the official Slavic culture. Therefore, they implemented a "capsulation" policy in aiming to save their original ethnicity, prior to Byzantine subjugation to Bulgaria in 1018.23

    Large number of Bulgarian scholars as G. Zanetov, B. Tzonev, St. Mladenov, etc… supported the concept in question, unlike to others, no less outstanding researchers as L. Miletic, K. Miatev, etc… Par example L. Miletic shared the idea that the language of khan Asparuh's Proto-Bulgarians did not overlap the language of Deliorman Turks and Gagaouzes as well as the Christianization process of the Gagaouzes lasted about two centuries (11-13-th century) in Southern Russia.24 According to his opinion after that the Christianization happened they migrated in the Balkans in sharing implicitly Russian historian V. Moshkov's hypothesis concerning the irreproachable ties of kindred between Gagaouzes and Karakalpaks. Despite the justified criticism towards Schkorpil's theory in reference to the conservation of non-Slavinized Proto-Bulgarians groups up to 11-th century, this concept was furthered by the contemporary Bulgarian researchers St. Dimitrov, E. Grozdanova, E. Sachev, N. Robev, Iv. Gradeshliev and V. Stoyanov. They guess the non-assimilated Proto-Bulgarian families facilitated the Turk-nomad tribal infiltration during the period 11-13 century. The last represented consecutive immigrant waves oriented to Dobroudja and the contemporary Bulgarian Northern Black Sea coast. In addition, those Bulgarian scholars focused on the cyclic linguistic re-Turkization of the concerned population provoked by permanent Turk-nomad fluxes from the North. As a rule, during the Ottoman period massive Islamization and Turkization processes had been witnessed in the region.

    Undoubtedly, Bulgarian scholar G. Balaschev's hypothesis claiming Seldjouk Turk issue of the Gagaouzes seems very challenging.25 The above mentioned researcher's studies are based on the legend "Oguz-name", adapted by Seid Lockman, court poet of Murad the Third (1574-1595). Balaschev motivated its theory through migration of some Seldjouk Turks groups headed by the Sultan Izzedin (Keikauz) in Black Sea Dobroudja in 13-th century. Logically, the author explained the word "Gagaouze" by linguistic transformation of the Sultan's name Keikauz. It is worthy to focus on Balaschev's reflection about the relationship between the Ottoman descend in the Balkans and Dobroudja principality in 14-th century. According to his colleague At. Manov "this Oguzian State became original Turk-Balkan amalgam of Seldjouk Turks, Turk-Nomad Uzis and local Christianized Proto-Bulgarians."26 The contributive element of the concerned theory that acquired well-founded academic appearance is based on proven migration processes in Dobroudja in 13-th century. For sure, the Gagaouze priest Ciachir from Bessarabia built his famous concept especially after had adopted and had developed Balaschev and Manov's hypothesis as well as the legend "Oguz-name" facts.27

    The most violent opponent of the above mentioned theory is the professed Bulgarian medievalist P. Mutavchiev. He absolutely denied the Seldjouk Turkish characteristic of Dobroudja principality by bringing forward Byzantine and Bulgarian sources.

    Several Turkish (O.I. Barcan and K. Karpat) and Romanian researchers (N. Vatzaria) shared the so-called "Seldjouk" concept. On some extent, it acquired political interpretation and resonance when it was popularized during the 30-th of the 20-th century.28 The Romanian authorities misused the concerned theory by claiming the non-Bulgarian ethnic background of the occupied in that moment Southern Dobroudja. However, following up the logic of every disputable concept of minority ethnic issue the Gagaouze problem felt many times politicized and scientifically atrophied, including in Bulgaria. In 1954 the Bulgarian scholar Kr. Baev call the Gagaouzes "Turkish ethnic community" and "independent nationality" in unison with the Communist propaganda. He was convinced that Gagaouze revival would certainly contribute for the Socialist nation building in Bulgaria.29


    The Bulgarian Gagaouze phenomenon is an exclusive ethnic contribution as explicit product of the local historical process. Its identity is wrapping up Turkish language, Orthodox Christianity, Bulgarian self-determination feelings and historical memory projected in Bulgarian Statehood tradition. Within the above-mentioned list of ethnic community building marks the language and the national self-determination feelings play the role of leading factors.

    As far as the language specificity is concerned the Turkish philology specialists are convinced that Gagaouzes speak Turkish dialect, which is very close to those spoken in Northeast Bulgaria. Nevertheless, they are not identical. As it seems Gagaouze language belongs to the Southwest "Oguz" family of the Turk languages.30 V. Stoyanov shared that the Gagaouze idiom may be evaluated as Balkan-Turk dialect or newly founded language during the New Turkish period (15-20-th century).31 In the same time, the outstanding Gagaouze enlightener Ciachir underlined that the Gagaouzes had always spoken Turk language, but much more authentic than the Ottoman one, whose felt "infiltrated" by Arabic and Persian loaned words. However, the linguistic likeness is not so convincing reason for set up closer relationship with the Turkish population. The contemporary Turk researchers admit this evidence, themselves.

    Second mainstreamed mark of the Gagaouze identity is Bulgarian self-determination feelings. This characteristic remains the leading proof for the original autochthonous Proto-Bulgarian issue. The principle "they are more Bulgarians than the Bulgarians, themselves" had to be considered as sample for preservation of the ethnic dignity.32 The Gagaouzes try to identify themselves with the ethnonime "Bulgar", often accompanied with the qualifications "(h) - asal"- true, "eski"-old, "kara" - black. The age-old coexistence with the Slavic speaking Bulgarians in common State as well as the common historical memory building made them inseparable part of Bulgarian civilization area. In unison with this they reacted very hardly against Romanian authorities' attempts for their manipulation and assimilation during the 30-th of 20-th century. Many Gagaouze families left the occupied Dobroudja and reached their Bulgarian compatriots in that moment.33

    It is necessary to mention that contemporary Gagaouzes remain ethnic group with dual identity. May be the second identity is quite weak, not so influent as the first one. They regard to themselves as something different from both Bulgarians and Turks as far as occasionally they defended opposite to Bulgarian interest' point of view. The Gagaouzes insisted on Bulgarian Orthodox Church dependence from the Constantinopolis Patriarchal institution during the so-called "Church wars" in mid-19-th century and through the peculiar "Creekized" self-determination feelings they abused to Bulgarian national ideals. Indeed, we have to explain the above mentioned event by the impressive Byzantine impact on Bulgarians during the Middle Ages as far as the Dobroudja principality official language was the Greek. In this way, the specialists in Gagaouze studies illustrated also the strong influence of the so-called "Karamanlis literature" (ecclesiastic literature of Turkish language written by Greek characters) on the concerned ethnic community. The Greek influence is still existing in the contemporary Bulgarian Gagaouze familial ceremonies, including in the name's system.

    Today the Gagaouzes are entirely integrated within Bulgarian society. They may not be characterized as "problematic" minority. The community professed representatives hired as scholars, diplomats, etc… are involved full rights in the local political and cultural life. Unfortunately, the social problems' globalization, the wide ethnic mosaic in Bulgaria as well as the extremely small number of the local Gagaouze group are important premises for its gradual "Bulgarization" and substantial disappearance.


  1. Andreeva, R., Nation and Nationalism within Bulgarian History, Sofia, 1998;
  2. Baev, K., About the Gagaouze Ethnogenese Problem, Varna Archeological Society News, Vol. 9, 1953;
  3. Balaschev, G., The Oguze State in Dobroudja, Military News, Vol. 26, 1917;
  4. Boev, E., The Gagaouzes, Our Compatriots, Sofia, Sofia University Press, 1987;
  5. Boev, E., Turk Studies, Realities and Terminology, Sofia University Press, 1989;
  6. Boev, P., Bulgarian Ethnography, Vol. 1, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1980;
  7. Chankov, J., Gagaouzes in Bulgaria, Sofia, 1936;
  8. Dimitrov, D., Proto-Bulgarians in North and West Black Sea Region, Varna, 1987;
  9. Dimitrov, G., Gagaouzes Ethnic Issues and Ethimological Background, Varna, 1909;
  10. Dimitrov, S., The Gagaouze Problem, In: Bulgarians in North Black Sea Region, Vol. 4, Veliko Tarnovo University Press, 1995;
  11. Dimitrov, S., The Ottoman Sources About Dobroudja and Northeast Bulgaria History, Sofia, 1981;
  12. Dimitrov, S., Dobroudja Demographic History during 15-17-th Century, In: Bulgarian Historical Society News, Vol. 35, 1983;
  13. Irechek, K., Several Remarks about the Remains of Pechenegs, Kumans As Well As the So - Called Peoples Gagaouzes and Surgutches in Contemporary Bulgaria, In: Periodical Review, Vol. 32, 1890;
  14. Ishrkov, A., Historical and Ethnographic Review of the Kingdom Bulgaria Population, Sofia, 1931;
  15. Ivanov, I., Bulgarians in Macedonia, Sofia, 1915;
  16. Gradeshliev, I., The Gagaouzes, Dobroudja Library, ¹ 5, 1993;
  17. Grozdanova, E., Kavarna and Kavarna Region during the 15-18-th Century, Vol. 1, 1984;
  18. Gurgurov, D., The Gagaouzes - the Descendants of Turk-Oguzes or Slavic-Bulgars, Kishinev, Rodno Slovo, 1998;
  19. History of Dobroudja, Vol.3, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1988;
  20. Manov, A., Gagaouze Issues, Costumes and Traditions, Varna, 1938;
  21. Marinov, V., Contribution to the Study of Turks and Gagaouzes' Style of Life and Culture in Northeast Bulgaria, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1956;
  22. Miletic, L., The Old Bulgarian Population in Northeast Bulgaria, Sofia, 1902;
  23. Mladenov, K., Odrin Gagaouzes, In: Archives of Urban Studies, Vol. 3, 1938;
  24. Mladenov, S., Pechenegs and Uzis-Kumans in Bulgarian History, Bulgarian Historical Library, Vol. 1, 1931;
  25. Mutafchiev, P., The False Settlement of Seldjouk Turks in Dobroudja during the 13-th Century, In: Collection Dobroudja, Vol. 4, 1947;
  26. Nikov, P., Tartar-Bulgarian Relationship During the Middle Ages and Smiletz Rule, Sofia, 1921;
  27. Nikov, P., Bulgarian Renaissance in Varna and Varna Region, Sofia, 1934;
  28. Robev, N., Thracian Gagaouzes, In: Vekove Journal, Vol. 3, 1988;
  29. Romanski, S., Italians in Dobroudja, In: Macedonian Review, Vol. 9, 1935;
  30. Stamenova, J., Gagaouzes, In: Communities and Identities in Bulgaria, Sofia, 1998;
  31. Stoyanov, V., Turkish Population in Bulgaria Between the Ethnic Policy Poles, Sofia, 1998;
  32. Tzonev, K., The State You Should Not Find on the Map, But It Really Exists, Balkanski Dialog, ¹ 24-25, July 2000;
  33. Vakarelski, H., Dobroudja, Sofia, 1964;
  34. Vatzaria, N., Gagaouze Issues, Translation In Bulgarian, Center for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Archives, 1938.

    1.Gradeshliev, I., Gagaouzes, Sofia, 1993, p. 9;Back

    2.Robev, N., Thracian Gagaouzes, Vekove Journal, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 37;Back

    3.See for more details: Mladenov, K., Edirne Gagaouzes…p.51-61;Back

    4.See for more details: Ivanov, I., Bulgarians in Macedonia, Sofia, 1915;Back

    5.See for more details: Boev, E., Turkish Studies, Realities and Terminology, Sofia,1989;Back

    6.Chankov, J., Gagaouzes in Bulgaria, Sofia, 1936, N 4, pp. 48-75;Back

    7.Stamenova, J., Gagaouzes, In: Communities and Identities in Bulgaria, Sofia, 1998, p. 190;Back

    8.National Statistic Institute, Census Results, Vol. 1, Demographic Characteristics, Sofia, 1994;Back

    9.Manov, A., Gagaouzes Issues, Costumes and Traditions, Varna, 1938, p. 17;Back

    10.Gurgurov, D., Gagaouzes - Heirs of Turk-Ogurs or Slavic- Bulgarians?, Kishinev, Rodno Slovo, 1998;Back

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    12.Islam Ansiklopedisi, Islam Alemi, Tarih, Geografya, Etnografya ve Biyografya lugati. Istanbul, 4 C., Milliectim basimevi, 1945, 707.Back

    13.Varna Archeological Society News (IVAD), Vol.5, 1912;Back

    14.Koeppen, P., Die Bulgaren in Bessarabien. Ein Bruchstuk aus einer nochungedructen Reise. Bulletin de la classe historico-philologique de l'Akademie Imperiale des sciences de St. Peterburg, 1854, ÕI, N 13-14, s. 194-218.Back

    15.IVAD, Vol 15, 1912;Back

    16.Ivanov, Iv., Brief Review of Bulgarian Colonies in Bessarabia, Kishinev, 1864, pp. 1-46;Back

    17.Miletic, L., The Old Bulgarian Population in Northeast Bulgaria, Sofia, 1902, pp. 15-17;Back

    18.Andreeva, R., Nation and Nationalism Within Bulgarian History, Sofia, 1998, p. 79;Back

    19.Boev, E., About the Pre-Turk Influence in Bulgarian Language, Bulgarian Language Review, ¹1, 1965, p. 5;Back

    20.Zlatarski, V., Which Kind of People Did Anna Komnina Understand by Mentioning "genos ti stitikon", Historical Society News, Vol. 11-12, Sofia, 1931-32, pp. 71-81;Back

    21.Dimitrov, G., Gagaouzes. Ethnic Issues and Ethimological Background, IVAT, 1909, pp. 31-32;Back

    22.Schkorpil, K and H., Remarks from Schkorpil Brothers, Annual Report of Varna State High School, 1898;Back

    23.Schkorpil, K., Materials Concerning the Proto-Bulgarian and Sever Destiny and the Origin of Contemporary Bulgarians, Praha, Bizantinoslavica, 1933, Vol. 5;Back

    24.Miletic, L., op.cit….pp. 190-191;Back

    25.Balashchev, G., The Oguze State in Dobroudja, Military News, Vol. 33-36, 1917;Back

    26.Manov, A., Gagaouze Issues, Costumes and Traditions, Varna, 1938, pp. 7-13;Back

    27.Gradeshliev, I., op. cit….pp. 62-63;Back

    28.Stamenova, J., Gagaouzes…p. 194;Back

    29.Baev, K., About the Gagaauze Ethnogenese Problem, Varna Archeological Society News, Vol. 9, 1953, pp. 89-91;Back

    30.Zajaczkowski, Wl., Jezik I folklor gagauzow z Bulgarii. Polska akademia nauk, ¹5, Krakowie, 1966, pp. 8-18;Back

    31.Stoyanov, V., Turkish Population in Bulgaria Between the Ethnic Policy Poles, Sofia, 1998, p. 51;Back

    32.Tzonev, K., The State You Should Not Find on the Map, But It Really Exists, Balkanski Dialog, ¹ 24-25, July 2000, p. 10;Back

    33.Remarks of G.N.Chakalov, doctor in Kavarna during 1909-1919, Kavarna Archives, ¹ 532;Back