After a decade of waiting: Road signs in the native Bulgarian language in Tsaribrod

With the installation of new signs on the highway, Tsaribrod’s name once again shone with light on a hot June day after decades of waiting. The name Tsaribrod is becoming a fact and already fits in the road signs, announced the multimedia portal in Serbian and Bulgarian “Far”.

The largest Tsaribrod village, Zhelyusha, also acquired new signposts written in Cyrillic and native Bulgarian.

The PHARE team took photos on the highway between Zhelyusha and Tsaribrod.

Tsaribrod is associated with the geographical, political and linguistic concept of the Western Outskirts, where a compact Bulgarian population has lived for centuries, despite the fact that they have been within Serbia for almost a century.

At the end of May this year, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev met with Serbian counterpart Alexander Vucic, at which a number of agreements were reached on the western outskirts in various areas – from infrastructure and investment to education, names, assistance. During his meeting with representatives of the Bulgarian national minority, the question was raised about the return of the historical name Tsaribrod, which would completely replace the still used parallel name Dimitrovgrad. Vucic then said that the name issue should be resolved at the local level according to the wishes of local citizens.

The first step was taken in early 2019, when a new sign with the inscription “Municipality of Tsaribrod” in Bulgarian was placed on the building of Serbian Dimitrovgrad, along with the inscription in Serbian. Thus, the city restored its old, original name – Tsaribrod, and now both names are in use and with equal legal force, that is, every citizen, if desired, could receive an official document that he is a resident of Tsaribrod.

Tsaribrod is on the language map of Bulgaria

Tsaribrod is 5 km from the border and everyone knows that to this day in the area Bulgarian is spoken.

Between 1879 and 1920 Tsaribrod was the center of the district first in the Principality and then in the Kingdom of Bulgaria. There is a population statistic from 1890, where in the column “non-Bulgarians” of all villages in the area, including the town of Tsaribrod, it is explicitly noted that there are none, ie. the whole population is purely Bulgarian, a fact that has not changed much, except for the number of people. The region, alas, is depopulated due to a number of factors, of which I personally would highlight the lack of care and interest of both countries in it, recalls Prof. Ana Kocheva, linguist at the Department of Bulgarian Dialectology and Linguistic Geography at the Institute of Bulgarian language at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The Treaty of Neuilly, signed in 1919, excluded the area in which the city was located from the territory of Bulgaria and handed it over to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Then, between 1941 and 1944, Tsaribrod was again within the borders of Bulgaria, and in 1951 it was renamed Dimitrovgrad in honor of Georgi Dimitrov.

There are different versions of this – according to some Tito is taking this act in the name of communist solidarity, according to others – out of pity for the fact that Dimitrov’s first wife was the Serbian Ljubica Ivosevic, which in the end does not matter much.

More importantly, the old name has now been restored and thus the connection with the communist past will be erased for future generations =

Photo credit: Multimedia portal in Serbian and Bulgarian “Far”


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