Bulgaria was accused in the 1980's of launching a forced
assimilation of the country's Turkish minority, estimated to
amount to approx. 10% of the total population. Sofia in 1986
rejected Amnesty International's charges of arresting more
than 250 Turks who had refused to accept their new identity
Bulgaria and Turkey signed a protocol on bilateral
relations in 1988, but the dialogue was interrupted the
following year when it was learned that Bulgarian militia by
force had prevented a demonstration in which more than
30,000 Turks protested the forced political assimilation.
More than 80,000 Turks were expelled by Bulgaria in June
1989. Turkey promised to receive all those expelled, but at
the end of August the borders were closed, as some 310,000
Turkish Bulgarians had crossed the border; Of these, 30,000
returned to Bulgaria. In November, the Ecoglasnost group in
the National Assembly held the post-war largest
demonstration, facing a nuclear power plant on an island in
the Danube River, which is claimed to be an earthquake area,
and at the same time a protest against the construction of a
water reservoir in one of the country's most important
Ca. 6,000 Pomak residents, representing the Islamic
minority of about 300,000, demanded religious and cultural
freedom in December.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party fired
Zhivkov from the post of Secretary General - a post he had
contested for 35 years - and he was replaced by Petur
Mladenov, who was regarded as a supporter of liberalization
of the regime. Mladenov also replaced Zhivkov as President
of the Council of State.
The National Assembly lifted the ban on demonstrations
facing the government and issued an amnesty for the inmates.
Demonstrations demanding reform and free elections
increased. The social unrest forced a change in the
constitution and the introduction of an election law that
allowed the holding of free elections.
The Union of Democratic Movements, composed of 16
opposition parties and the authorities agreed in March 1990
to elect a new constitutional assembly. At the July
elections, the former communists from the Bulgarian
Socialist Party won. In October, the Socialist Party was
forced to join a coalition government, led by Yelio Yelev, a
1970's dissident and leader of the Social Democratic Wing of
the Union of Democratic Movements.
The new coalition government launched an economic reform
program, advised by the IMF and the World Bank, and entered
into "social peace agreements" with trade unions in force
for a period of 200 days until the reforms came into force.
In July 1991, the new constitution was adopted, which
included: a parliamentary system, the inviolability of
property rights and freedom of expression were introduced.
As new Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov was appointed, who had
embarked on the Social Democrats and "the Greens", p. the
support of the right-wing opposition and of the Freedom and
Human Rights Movement, which represented the Turkish
With the participation of 75% of the population, Yelev
was elected President of the Republic in January 1992. The
leader of the transitional government and the initiators of
the opening to the West, obtained 54.4% of the vote in the
second round of elections, defeating Socialist Party
candidate Velko Valkanov.