Turkey to restore Ottoman-era mosque in Bulgaria
Turkey will renovate an Ottoman-era mosque in the Bulgarian town of Razgrad as a result of a decision reached after a series of negotiations between the two countries, the governor's office in the border Edirne province said on Thursday.
Turkish officials were in contact with their Bulgarian counterparts, and especially with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in order to start the restoration of the İbrahim Pasha Mosque, the biggest Ottoman architectural work in the Balkans still standing.
Presently closed to worship, the mosque's restoration was discussed during a Bulgarian Ministerial Council session convened Wednesday under the presidency of Borisov.
The council issued a permission for the mosque to be restored by Turkey, appointing Razgrad's Turkish-origin governor Günay Hüsmen to oversee the reconstruction process, the office said in a statement.
The mosque will be opened to worship once the renovation has finished, the governor's office added.
Bulgaria is home to numerous mosques, historical Turkish baths (hammams), and a number of other historical buildings needing restoration.
A total of 27 Ottoman-era mosques in Bulgaria are awaiting restoration, as their minarets, walls, and doors have either collapsed or suffered considerable damage over time.
On the list are the Fatih Mehmed Mosque, located in the western city of Kyustendil, the Karaca Pasha Mosque in the southern town of Gotze Delchev, besides the İbrahim Pasha Mosque in Razgrad.However, local Muslim authorities complain that Bulgarian officials do not allow the restoration of old mosques with no minarets, which, they argue, is a reason to declare them as mere "historic sites".