1. The Greek Press on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea
Prior to the establishment of the Bulgarian state and the creation of the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia (1878), no Greek newspapers or magazines were published in the Greek communities of modern-day Bulgaria. The ‘Organizational law [Organikos Nomos] of Eastern Rumelia’ guaranteed the freedom of the Press and so noteworthy publishing activity developed in this province in the short period until its annexation to Bulgaria. The majority of newspapers and magazines in circulation were Bulgarian; however, there was a fair number of Greek newspapers and magazines in Philippoupoli, Varna and Pyrgos (Burgas) from 1878 to 1906.
Greek sources provide fragmentary information regarding the Greek press in Bulgaria while further information, though not always accurate, can be found in the bibliography guide of D. Ivanchev, Balgarski periodichen pechat 1844-1944. Anotiran bibliografski ukazatel (The Bulgarian periodical press 1844-1944. Bibliography), Sofia 1969.1
At the end of the nineteenth century, seven newspapers and magazines were being published in Varna and two in Pyrgos. We do not have an exact chronological framework for all the issues as they have not been completely saved, except for the magazine Pandaisia (1898-1900). As regards the remaining newspapers, we can be certain as to the beginning of their publication, but not as to their termination. In Varna were published the newspapers Odissos, Efxinos, Anexartisia , Ameroliptos, Tilegraphos, Foni, and the magazine Pandaisia, while in Pyrgos were published the newspapers Vima and Theatis.
1) Odissos: Published every Saturday. Director and publisher: Anast. Athanasiadis. Editor: V. N. Gounaropoulos. Year 1, n. 18, Varna 11/5/1891.2
After the issue of 4/9/1891, the newspaper was printed in its own printing house- the ‘International printing house of Odessa’ in which books were also published such as the work of Ioannis Nikolaou Odissos (Varna) from an archaeological and historical perspective (in Greek), Varna 1894.
After 10 August 1891, Charalambos A. Lambridis replaced Athanasiadis as director and editor. V. N. Gounaropoulos continued as editor in chief and the paper was printed twice a week. From 17 January 1892, Lambridis was appointed director and sole editor and the newspaper was printed three times a week. In January 1894, further changes were made: Lambridis remained the director and editor in chief and S. G. Skanavis became co-proprietor and editor. The newspaper acquired a larger form and announced, beforehand, the issuing of the literary work Anthologia tis Odissou(Anthology of Odissos), that is, 36 supplements consisting of 32 pages each. Unfortunately, none of these supplements have survived.3
After the 3/7/1894 issue, Ch. A. Lambridis appears as the sole proprietor and editor. S. G. Skanavis settled in Philippoupoli where in September of the same year he began to publish the newspaper TheMinytor of Aimos (Messenger of Aimos) until 1896, when he published the newspaper To Vima.
It is not certain when the publication of the Odissos ceased. According to reports, its circulation was not normal until the end of 1894.4
2) Efxinos: A political, philological and trade newspaper published once a week. Director: Anast. Athanasiadis. Executive editor and publisher: V. N. Gounaropoulos. Year 1, n. 1, Varna 30/3/1894.5
The director of the Efxinos was Anastasios Athanasiadis and the editor was V. N. Gounaropoulos; former publishers of the Odissos. The newspaper Efxinos often came into conflict with Odissos and on a personal level, especially when its editor was Skanavis.6 V. N. Gounaropoulos, musician and director of the ‘Philharmonic Society of Varna’ terminated his collaboration with the newspaper in April 1894 as he settled in Athens “in order to complete his studies in music.”7 After that, Athanasiadis became director and editor in chief. In the issue of 25 February 1896 Aristodimos Xatzipetrou, a member of the notables and a prominent member of the Greek community of the city, appeared as the publisher.
The last surviving issue of the newspaper is dated 25/9/1896. It is not known when its publication ceased.
3) Anexartisia: This newspaper was printed twice a week by T. Paraschos in 1897. No issues have been saved in any library and the only information about its existence comes only from the Bulgarian Press of the time.8
4) Ameroliptos: A political, trade, literature and social newspaper, printed on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Director and editor: A. D. Oikonomidis. In charge: Dr. V. D. Paraschos. Year 1, Varna 19/5/1899. Only four issues have been saved (until 29/5/1899) and it is not known when its circulation ceased.9
The Ameroliptos, in the belief that it was supporting the true interests of the Greeks of Bulgaria, followed a distinct pro-Turkish and anti-Russian line as regards its political stance.
The person in charge of the newspaper, Dr. V. N. Paraschos, was a well-known lawyer and a distinguished member of the Greek community. In the third issue (27/5/1899), the name of G. Vasiliadis is referred to as being the editor in chief. It appears that Paraschos was relieved of his position after strong reactions from both the Bulgarians and Greeks of the city who were opposed to the pro-Turkish line followed by the newspaper.10
5) Odissos-Efxinos: The existence of this newspaper has been recorded only by D. Ivanchev, who mentions that it was printed at ‘The International Printing House’ of Odessa in 1897, and by I. Bliznakov, who notes that it was published from 1893 to 1897. However, neither D. Ivanchev nor I Bliznakov had seen the newspaper themselves but, instead, relied on information from the Bulgarian Press of that period. We can assume that there had been a confusion about the titles of the Odissos and the Efxinos which were published separately during that same period.
6) Telegraphos: According to D. Ivanchev and I. Bliznakov, from whom the sole reports of its existence are made, the newspaper circulated in June, 1881 by N. S. Cholakov, with articles written, simultaneously, in both Greek and Bulgarian.11
7) Pandaisia: Ethical, social and encyclopaedic newspaper, published three times a month with the collaboration of many different representatives from different branches of science. Under the direction of D. Chatzidaniel, Doctor of Philosophy and graduate of the Theologian School. Year 1, n. 1, Varna 10/1/1898.12
From 1899 it circulated twice a month.
Chatzidaniel had published treatises on theological and philosophical subjects in separate volumes.13 In the issue of 15th December 1900 it was announced that the Pandaisia, as from January 6th, would be a weekly publication on political, social and philosophical subjects. Therefore, the newspaper Foni emerged as its continuation.
8) Foni: A political, trade and social newspaper published every Saturday under the direction of, D. Chatzidaniel. Period 2, Year 4, n. 1, Varna 27/1/1901.14
The last issue which has survived is of July 9, 1901. However, it is unknown when its publication was terminated.
3. Pyrgos (Burgas)
1) ToVima: Published in Pyrgos every Tuesday and Friday. Director and proprietor: G. Skanavis. Period 1, n. 147, Varna 20/11/1896. Period 2, Year 1, n. 147.15
The newspaper appeared as a continuation of the newspapers Minytor tou Aimou (The Messenger of Aimos), which was published by Skanavis in Philippoupoli; and that is why the issues begin with the number 147. Co-proprietor was Nikolaos Nikolaidis.
In the issue of January 26th, it was announced that the Vima had acquired a printing house of its own. The size and form changed frequently; initially it was small in size and for a period it was printed daily. During the Greek-Turkish war it published news from the war zone, reports from Greece and foreign news, showing thus the interest of the Greeks of Pyrgos in the developments in Greece.
After the issue of 7th June, 1897 its editors changed frequently: Gr. Papadopoulos, Gr. Anastasiadis, M. Vazolis. After the issue of August 14th Skanavis appears as its sole director and editor. The last issue which has survived is that of January 4th, 1898. It is not known when its publication was terminated.
2) Theatis: A weekly newspaper. Publisher, director and editor in chief was G. Gorgias. It was published from the 31st of March to July 22, 1899.
Reports of its existence are found in the Ameroliptos, while D. Ivanchev notes that it contained Greek, French and Bulgarian articles.16
4. The Structure of the Greek Newspapers
They were published in the form of modern newspapers, with four pages, each comprising of four, six or eight columns. Only the Pandaisia was in the form of a magazine. Usually, on the first page was the editorial – though it was not present in all the newspapers – which commented on internal and external issues or on issues concerning the community. The stance of the editors towards the policy of the Bulgarian government and the Bulgarian king was very cautious and they avoided presenting a negative picture of the Bulgarians. The foreign news were published usually through the news reports of the ‘Havas’ agency and news reports from Greece. In all of the Greek newspapers of Bulgaria existed news from Athenian newspapers and one column, at least, was devoted to news from Greece. It is obvious that the Greeks of Bulgaria were concerned not only with the political developments in Greece, but also with the regions of the Ottoman Empire where Greeks lived, such as in Macedonia and Thrace.
On the first and second pages there usually appeared internal news; news concerning the king and his family, parliamentary items, references to the policy of the government and to that of the opposition. There are comprehensive references to the addresses of the monarchy, government decisions and legislation. However, criticism is always careful and restricted, especially on issues regarding the Greek community.
On the third and fourth page, the local and social news were published, mainly those regarding the activities of the Greek community, the Greek schools and societies, the election of the members of the , theatrical performances, balls and every kind of events, as well as social news (weddings, engagements, funerals, university graduation ceremonies etc). This information drew not only from the city in which the newspaper was printed, but also from other Greek communities in the country. Letters from readers on various subjects were also published. Series on a variety of a literary and archeological issues were frequently published -such as that of Ioannis Nikolaou on the antiquities of Varna in Odissos – or translated works of literature. On the last page advertisements on various products and services were published.
The newspapers comprise an invaluable source of information regarding the social, political, economic and cultural activities of the Greeks of Bulgaria, as well as the status of the Greek community within the framework of the newly-formed Bulgarian state.