Practice what you preach?
PRESIDENT PLEVNELIEV’S PUZZLING PREACHING?
by Sasha Uzunov
Bulgaria’s outgoing President, Rosen Plevneliev, in a bizarre and some would say, hypocritical, parting shot has called for Macedonia to drop “Macedonianism” if it wants Bulgaria’s support for joining the European Union. see link here
At the heart of the matter is Bulgaria’s historical refusal to accept a Macedonian identity even though it was the first to recognise Macedonia’s independence in 1991 from the then crumbling Yugoslavia.
The Bulgarian formula is that the Macedonians are allegedly “Western Bulgarians” and the Republic of Macedonia is like Kosovo is to Albania, Montenegro and Republika Srpska in Bosnia are to Serbia.
HISTORICAL MACEDONIAN HEARTLAND
Macedonia had fallen under Ottoman Turk occupation for five hundred years. Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria started the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 which led to the end of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Macedonia was then divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. Albania took a tiny slice in 1919. Macedonians were then subjected to a brutal campaign of denationalisation and forced assimilation by Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Macedonian resistance broke out in the various divided parts of Macedonia. The territory that was annexed by Serbia was renamed Južna Srbija, “Southern Serbia".
A1926 report by British diplomat R.A. Gallop who spent a week in Macedonia (then under Serbian occupation), including the City of Skopje:
"Those of the latter that I met were equally insistent on calling themselves neither Serbs nor Bulgars, but Macedonians....There seemed to be no love lost for the Bulgars in most places. Their brutality during the war [World War I] had lost them the affection even of those who before the Balkan War had been their friends…” see link here
In 1944, Macedonia was elevated, mostly in part by its own efforts, to republican status within Marshal Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia. Though nominally the nation-state of the Macedonian people its autonomy was limited by federalist power in Belgrade. In 1991 that part became the independent state of the Republic of Macedonia.
BULGARIA’S NAZI PAST - a touchy subject !
Bulgaria remains very prickly about its collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II (1941-44) which saw a brutal Bulgarian occupation of Macedonia displace equally brutal Serb and Greek colonial rule; as well as Bulgaria’s role in the genocide of Macedonia’s one thriving centuries old Sephardic Jewish community. With the war lost, Bulgaria cynically changed sides - in fact it was occupied by the Soviet Red Army in September 1944.
During World War II, a Macedonian partizan resistance movement - an uneasy alliance of communists and nationalist banded together to fight the Germans, Bulgarian, Italians and the quisling Albanian nationalist militia the Balle Kombetar. After the war, the Macedonian communists then turned on their erstwhile nationalist allies, jailing some of ts prominent leaders such as the hugely popular non communist and businessman Metodija Andonov Cento, Macedonia’s President, during an infamous Stalinist style political show trial in Yugoslavist administered Macedonia. His conviction was overturned in 1990 - a year before independence.
1942 massive Macedonian resistence against the Bulgarian occupation. Nazi Germany sends in the dreaded Gestapo.
The Newcastle Sun (Australia), Monday, 14 September 1942, Page 1. see link here
American newspaper archives - Font page - The Daily Banner newspaper, Indiana, 14 September 1942. Macedonian guerillas (Partizans) attempt assassination.
7 September 1942 - the Macedonian Partizan operation that nearly removed one of Hitler's Holocaust Henchmen - the evil Petur Gabrovski, Interior Minister in the Bulgarian occcupation of Macedonia during World War II.
According to prominent Macedonan historian Dr Todor Cepreganov, Macedonian Partizans from the "Dimitar Vlahov" unit tried to assassinate the dreaded Gabrovski on a visit to occupied Macedonia.
Gabrovski collaborated in the rounding up of Macedonia’s Jews and in handing them over to the Nazis for extermination.
The attempt on Gabrovski failed and in revenge the Bulgarian occupation authorities launched a brutal campaign of reprisals and atrocities against the Macedonian partizans and civilians which was met with fierce resistance.
The Bulgarian press at the time labelled the Macedonian resistance as “Bulgarian communists” whilst in the some sections of the British press the Royal Yugoslav government in exile in London tried to take the credit for the failed assassination attempt.
In 1996, as an insult to Macedonian Jews and Gentiles alike, the Bulgarian High Court rehabilitated Gabrovski.
For a short period, whilst Yugoslavia was still within the Soviet camp (1946-48), Bulgaria recognised a Macedonian nationality. After Tito’s split with Soviet leader Stalin in 1948-49, Bulgaria changed its tune over the Macedonians. Interesting to note that Bulgaria into the early 1960s kept official population statistics of ethnic Macedonians.
1965 US STATE DEPARTMENT SECRET REPORT ON BULGARIA-GREECE BORDER. - located in the National Archives of Australia www.naa.gov.au
The US report, quoting the Bulgarian national census of 1956, lists total population of Bulgaria as 7,613,709
POST 1991 EVENTS
Bulgarian nationalist propaganda has tried to make inroads into post independence Macedonia with “missionaries” such as Kressimir Karakachanov (pictured above) and his offsider Angel Djambazki attending commemorations in The Republic of Macedonia for the Ilinden Uprising of 2 August 1903 which unsuccessfully saw Macedonian rebels try to throw off centuries of Ottoman Turkish occupation. Ilinden remains the foundation legend of the modern Macedonian state, as Gallipoli is for Australia, the War of Independence of 1776 is for the United States.
Karakachanov provocatively and wrongfully claims the Macedonian rebels in the Ilinden Uprising were Bulgarians. No counter protests have ever been held by leading Macedonian “internationalists” such as Borjan Jovanovski or Branko Geroski over deliberate Bulgarian nationalist activity in the Republic of Macedonia. Both major Macedonian parties, the nominally “Macedonian nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and the Social Democrats, SDSM, have remained passive - perhaps fearing Bulgarian blackmail in blocking EU membership. Bulgarian nationalists have used this vulnerability - the desperate attempt to get into the EU by Macedonia.
So President Plevneliev’s comment is out of place…and out of line. Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski has reacted in a kind of warm and fuzzy manner, not wanting to disturb the grumbling Bulgarian political bear too much but letting Sofia know the President’s comments are not justified. see link here
The Bulgarian neo-Nazi Ataka Party, led by dangerous extremist Volen Siderov, also has staunch anti Macedonian views to go along with a hatred of Turks, Roma, Jews and Freemasons. see link here
There has been a marked rise in right wing extremism in Bulgaria - see link here - as there has been in Greece with the advent of the Golden Dawn party, which also has an anti Macedonian, anti Turkish, anti Albanian and anti Semitic platform.
As with Greece and Serbia, Bulgaria’s political landscape, both on the left and right, is underpinned by nationalism to varying degrees - a kind of sliding scale in fervour.
So even though the leftist Syriza in government and the ultra rightist Golden Dawn in Greece may hate each, on certain nationalistic issues they agree, namely the Macedonia issue. Likewise in Bulgaria, both left and right refuse to recognise a Macedonian identity.
It’s also no coincidence that Bulgaria has tried to undermine key events in Macedonian history, such as the partizan resistance movement and Bulgaria’s evil role in the Holocaust of Macedonia’s Jewish people and brutal occupation of Macedonia.
The Macedonian feature film, The Third Half, about Bulgaria’s wartime role in Macedonia, met with fierce opposition in Sofia, when it was released internationally in 2012. see link here
Ljubco Georgievski, the former Macedonian Prime Minister (1998-2002) and ex leader of VMRO-DPMNE, is seen as an advocate of “Bulgarianism” in Macedonia. Accusations were levelled against him in conspiring with Albanian nationalists in provoking the 2001 ethnic Albanian uprising in order to defacto partition the country and leave it susceptible to Bulgarian subversion. see link here
Others, too, such as British academic James Pettifer, have warned of a Bulgarianist faction that set up within Macedonia’s VMRO-DPMNE party in 1997. - (Cited in Pettifer - “The New Macedonian Question,” Springer, 1999, page 145).
In 2013 - the US Senate Select Committee -intelligence assessment on global threats - US monitored growing tensions between Macedonia and Bulgaria. see link here
2007 - EUROPEAN UNION ADMISSION - Political expedience ?
How Bulgaria got into the EU with one of the most corrupt judicial systems is beyond belief. see links here and here.
Plus the many international criticisms of Bulgaria’s mistreatment of its Macedonian minority… In 2006 “Bulgaria has stepped up its campaign of blatant racism and intimidation against its large Macedonian minority [and its organisation, UMO-Ilinden] only months before its acceptance into the European Union…” see link here and here.
“In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Bulgaria had violated Macedonians’ right to freedom of assembly by prohibiting commemorative activities of the previous incarnation of the UMO-Ilinden organization."
"In September 2007, the European Commission reminded Bulgaria of its obligation to respect the ECHR ruling, as well as the EU Directive that all EU citizens are protected from racial or ethnic discrimination. Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini stated that the Commission would inquire whether that Directive has been adequately incorporated into Bulgarian legislation.
"Macedonians continue to face routine harassment. In July 2005, members of a nationalist Bulgarian party disrupted a Macedonian commemoration in Razlog with violent intimidation, and police refused to provide protection. In September 2007, police in Blagoevgrad, whose mayor has been virulently anti-Macedonian, prevented a rally by members of UMO-Ilindin-PIRIN by detaining participants and seizing posters. Police in the town have previously gone door-to-door to question party members. In Bulgaria’s schools, there remains no mention of Macedonian ethnicity."
Bulgaria got into the EU because it’s ruling elite replaced the old Soviets for new US masters as well as allowing joint US military bases on its territory.
Bulgaria was one of the most loyal of Soviet satellite states during the Cold War (1948-89) with a rumoured plan to turn Bulgaria into a republic of the Soviet Union at the time. But out of its own self interest Bulgaria changed its masters at the end of the Cold War, aligning itself with the West. But it is a cynical marriage of political convenience to cut off Russian influence in the Balkans and not out of a shared belief in “Western values.”