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Миладиновци: Български народни песни

Етнографија на Македонија

Македония - Сборник от документи и материали

Bulgarian "no" is to Macedonia's advantage

15 December 2012

Miroslav Rizinski's analysis for "Europost"

The Bul­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment's deci­sion to say "no" to start­ing nego­ti­a­tions for Mac­e­do­nia's EU acces­sion was just as his­tor­ic as the one on 15 Jan­u­ary 1992 that made Bul­gar­ia the first coun­try to recog­nize the inde­pend­ence of Mac­e­do­nia. Odd as it may seem, not only aren't the two deci­sions con­flict­ing, but they are in the inter­est of Mac­e­do­nia itself.

How, then, did it come to Bul­gar­i­an "no" in the con­text of Bul­gar­ia's con­sist­ent pol­i­cy with regard to Mac­e­do­nia? The 1992 rec­og­ni­tion was under­lain by the need to defuse the domes­tic polit­i­cal ten­sions fuelled by expec­ta­tions of Yugo-army inter­ven­tion. More­over, it cre­at­ed inter­na­tion­al legal hur­dles to a poten­tial aggres­sor, warn­ing of pos­si­ble region­al com­pli­ca­tions out­side the Yugo­sla­vi­an frame­work, thus turn­ing into a strong pre­ven­tion fac­tor against pos­si­ble involve­ment of Mac­e­do­nia in the area of force­ful impo­si­tion of the Ser­bi­an sce­nar­io for pre­serv­ing the Yugo-fed­er­a­tion.

Bul­gar­ia took a deci­sion to recog­nize Mac­e­do­ni­an sov­er­eign­ty in line with its own nation­al inter­ests. It is very impor­tant to recall that the rec­og­ni­tion was uncon­di­tion­al although the Mac­e­do­ni­an nation has been chipped off in the last dec­ades at the expense of Bul­gar­ia's peo­ple and his­to­ry. It is a known fact that the Mac­e­do­ni­an nation for­ma­tion came as imple­men­ta­tion and evo­lu­tion of the Ser­bi­an polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy of the late 19 c., propped by a res­o­lu­tion of the Com­mu­nist Inter­na­tion­al in Mos­cow in 1934 and put into prac­tice aft­er 1944 on the ter­ri­to­ry of Var­dar Mac­e­do­nia, which was includ­ed in Yugo­slav­ia as part of the new fed­er­a­tion. Mac­e­do­ni­an nation­al­is­tic doc­trine was forced on Var­dar Mac­e­do­nia with a total­i­tar­i­an Com­mu­nist state's spe­cif­ic meth­ods and means: ter­ror and repres­sions against those who described them­selves as Bul­gar­i­ans, rewrit­ing of his­to­ry by means of edu­ca­tion and media, coun­ter­feit­ing doc­u­ments, arte­facts and his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments.

When Bul­gar­ia recog­nized Mac­e­do­nia, it believed that in the course of dem­oc­ra­ti­za­tion, the coun­try would man­age to awak­en to and restore the force­ful­ly inter­rupt­ed dur­ing the Com­mu­nist rule his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­i­ty and thus, build a real­is­tic view of its future and rela­tions with its neigh­bours. Alas, for 20 years now, offi­cial author­i­ties in Skop­je have been con­stant­ly sig­nal­ling that their dis­po­si­tion to repro­duc­tion and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of Mac­e­do­ni­an myths over­whelms their will to face real­i­ty.

This pol­i­cy has reached its cli­max dur­ing the six years PM Niko­la Gruev­ski has been in pow­er. By means of cost­ly media manip­u­la­tions, as well as the Skop­je 2014 project, the author­i­ties have been try­ing to "awak­en" Mac­e­do­ni­an cit­i­zens to their ancient back­ground and their direct rela­tion to Alex­an­der the Great of Mac­e­don, thus gal­va­niz­ing and breath­ing new life into Yugo­sla­vi­an Mac­e­do­ni­an nation­al­ism. This myth­i­cised per­cep­tion gives rise to neigh­bour pol­i­cies archi­tec­ture ini­tial­ly to serve Bel­grade's inter­ests dat­ing back to the times of former Yugo­slav­ia. In oth­er words, through prov­o­ca­tions tar­get­ing its neigh­bours and con­stant re-moot­ing of the issue of the rights of "Mac­e­do­ni­ans" in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, Mac­e­do­nia is kept in check and with­in Bel­grade's orbit. Evi­dent­ly, it is this myth­i­cised image of Mac­e­do­nia that Gruev­ski wants to impose on neigh­bours and that, in case of an even­tu­al EU acces­sion, will receive inter­na­tion­al rec­og­ni­tion.

In the name of this pol­i­cy the author­i­ties in Skop­je resort to gross fal­si­fi­ca­tion of the Bul­gar­i­an his­to­ry, build across Skop­je mon­u­ments to prom­i­nent Bul­gar­i­an his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, includ­ing Bul­gar­ia's Tsar Sam­u­el, rep­re­sent­ing them as Mac­e­do­ni­ans, show Bul­gar­i­an medi­e­val man­u­scripts, describ­ing them as Mac­e­do­ni­an, in Europe, includ­ing Brus­sels and so on. It was for prop­a­gan­da pur­pos­es again that the gov­ern­ment in Skop­je pro­vid­ed finan­cial sup­port for shoot­ing the film Third Half­time, explain­ing it was of "high nation­al inter­est". It is yet anoth­er depic­tion of Bul­gar­i­ans as invad­er brutes put­ting to use old Yugo­sla­vi­an cli­ches about "Fas­cist Bul­gar­ia", "Bul­gar­i­an Fas­cist Invad­er", etc.

Skop­je nev­er gave up bru­tal oppres­sion and har­ass­ment of cit­i­zens of Mac­e­do­nia who open­ly state their Bul­gar­i­an ori­gin, nor sab­o­tag­ing and aver­sion to any attempt to organ­ise joint cel­e­bra­tions of his­tor­i­cal events with neigh­bours in line with EU rec­om­men­da­tions. This pol­i­cy came to a head with an invi­ta­tion to "legal enti­ties and nat­u­ral per­sons belong­ing to Mac­e­do­ni­an nation­al minor­i­ties on the Bal­kan Pen­in­su­la and among Mac­e­do­ni­an dias­po­ra" pub­lished by the Mac­e­do­ni­an For­eign Min­is­try for pro­jects aim­ing to fund "the organ­i­sa­tion of Mac­e­do­ni­an lan­guage cours­es, pub­lish­ing of news­pa­pers and oth­er infor­ma­tion media in Mac­e­do­ni­an lan­guage, pro­duc­tion of TV and radio broad­casts and open­ing of cul­tur­al cen­tres" most­ly in the two Bal­kan coun­tries that are EU Mem­ber States, Bul­gar­ia and Greece.

For­mal­ly and legal­ly, the Bul­gar­i­an "no" to the start of nego­ti­a­tions between Mac­e­do­nia and the EU is based on one of the require­ments voted in the Euro­pe­an Par­lia­ment con­cern­ing the devel­op­ment of good neigh­bour­ly rela­tions. The Bul­gar­i­an "no" direct­ly tar­gets anti-Euro­pe­an pol­i­cies pur­sued by Mac­e­do­nia's gov­ern­ment but not the coun­try's cit­i­zens, thus inter­na­tion­al­is­ing in the best way the under­ly­ing prob­lems of the Mac­e­do­ni­an soci­e­ty.

Although obvi­ous­ly the author­i­ties in Skop­je would not admit it, Mac­e­do­nia would be­n­e­fit great­ly from the estab­lish­ment of close bilat­er­al rela­tions with Bul­gar­ia. First, Bul­gar­ia will help Mac­e­do­nia raise the aware­ness of and restore its his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­i­ty. Sec­ond, this will cre­ate an envi­ron­ment to solve the long-stand­ing dis­pute with Greece over the name of the coun­try, thus dis­card­ing the rea­sons prompt­ing Greek Pres­i­dent Ka­ro­los Papouli­as to say that as long as Skop­je per­sists with its Mac­e­do­ni­an nation­al­ism ide­ol­o­gy, it will keep fac­ing closed doors to NATO and the EU. Unfreez­ing rela­tions with Bul­gar­ia will also have a pos­i­tive impact on reliev­ing inter­eth­nic ten­sions in Mac­e­do­nia, as well as the pres­er­va­tion of its ter­ri­to­ry undi­vid­ed, which is a top pri­or­i­ty for Bul­gar­ia, too.

And such an out­come would direct­ly serve Mac­e­do­ni­an cit­i­zens' EU ambi­tions, as well as the dem­oc­ra­ti­za­tion of Mac­e­do­nia and its inclu­sion in the Euro­pe­an fam­i­ly.

Link to Europost's article
Bulgarian version of the article