De-Bulgarization and persecutions of Bulgarians in FYROM

Outgoing No 86/08 Sept. 1997
Attention: Mr. Kiro Gligorov
President of the Republic of Macedonia
from the Macedonian Scientific Institute, Sofia
(re: Your interview of 23 July 1997)
Mr. President,

Not long ago, the Macedonian Bulgarians living in the USA, Canada and Australia, as well as those in Germany, addressed You with an Open Letter on the occasion of Your interview of 23 July 1997. In our capacity of Macedonian Bulgarians and members of the Macedonian Scientific Institute – academicians, corresponding members, professors, assistant professors, research associates, and public figures, we would also like to express our attitude to the problems treated by You in the interview.

We are pleased with the fact that You recognized a number of facts considering the Republic of Macedonia and the relations between our two countries, namely:

1. This was the first time You have declared before the world that the process of “de-Bulgarization” in the Republic of Macedonia has been completed “with the exception of some persons and one or two parties“. That statement of Yours confirms the historic truth that, until 1944, the Slavonic population of the Republic of Macedonia has been a Bulgarian one. Furthermore, in this way You supported the statement made by President Petar Stoyanov in Strasbourg – that “Macedonian history is a part of Bulgarian history, and one of its most romantic parts – the struggle of the Christian population against the enslavers“.

2. You pointed out that the pro-Bulgarian attitudes in the Republic of Macedonia were a “standing problem” for You. This, Mr. President, is true only regarding the period since 1944. It is well known that the population of Macedonia has always legitimized itself as being Bulgarian, which is testified by the Ottoman archives, the diplomatic correspondence of the foreign consuls, foreign observers, travellers, eminent scientists, military people, and others who had worked in the historical-geographic region on Macedonia, as well as by the written documents left by the most prominent figures of the National Revival period – Father Paissiy, Neophyte Rilski, Grigor Parlichev, the Miladinov brothers, Jordan Hadjikonstantinov (Djinot), Kouzman Shapkarev, Rayko Zhinzifof, etc.; the national revolutionaries Damyan Grouev, Gotse Delchev, Pere Toshev, Todor Alexandrov, Ivan Mihaylov; the builders of our state – M. Andonov (Chento), P. Shatev, V. Markovski, etc.

3. You finally found the courage to confirm a statement we have made a number of times, namely that “the recognition of a state, and not of a language or a nation, is a matter of international law”. This is exactly the truth, Mr. President, for the state is a political, i. e. legal category, which is subject to recognition or non-recognition, while the language and the nation are scientific categories which are not subject to recognition. The policy of the Serbo-Communists in the Republic of Macedonia towards legitimizing the Comintern decision of 1934 for creation a “Macedonian nation” and a “Macedonian language” have led to the present situation, i. e. search for a political decision of the problem. The recent statement of the Greek President, Mr. Kostas Stefanopoulos, cited by the “New Macedonia” newspaper, that “the Macedonians are Bulgarians and their language is a fabrication” confirm indisputably in another way the historical truth.

4. You are right, Mr. President, in stating that the language dispute is “a domestic problem of your own”. The Macedonian Serbo-Communists have “conjured up” that language which, according to the “Focus” newspaper, is spoken by less than a half of the people of the Republic of Macedonia. Therefore, we dare ask you: since this is a domestic problem of yours, why is Your government constantly intruding it onto us and using it to block the normal relations between our states?

However, along with the confessions made, You went on by trying to support and legalize a number of non-truths:

First. You allowed Yourself to identify the Republic of Macedonia with the whole historical-geographical region of Macedonia, as well as to appear as a spokesman for its entire population. Yet you neglected the fact, Mr. President, that the region in question belongs to three independent states – the republics of Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. Your behaviour gives us the reason to assume that You are expressing explicit territorial claims which is an anachronism for the present day.

You declared Yourself a spokesman for the population of the three areas of Macedonia. We have the right to ask you: who authorized You to do so? The events in “Mechkin Kamen” on the occasion of the Ilinden Uprising allows us to doubt Your chances of being a spokesman even for the opinion of the Republic of Macedonia.

Second. In Your interview, You once again made an attempt at proving the existence of a “Macedonian minority” in the republics of Greece, Albania and Bulgaria. You certainly are aware of the fact that there is no such minority not only in Bulgaria, but also in the rest of the countries. It is well known that the attempts made on the part of the Bulgarian Communist Party, under the strong pressure exerted by the Comuntern and Tito’s Yugoslavia, to Macedonize the Bulgarian population in the Pirin region in 1946-47 were a complete failure. Nowadays, the successors of that Party – Bulgarian socialists – came out with a declaration which confessed and condemned the attempts at a de-Bulgarization made by their predecessors, since these were strongly urged from foreign powers and against the will of the people from the region. Not long ago, the former Albanian President, Mr. Sali Berisha declared that about 150-200 thousand Bulgarians are living in his country. The International Kelsinki Committee, as well as the American newspaper “New York Times” of 1996 stated that about 150 000 Bulgarian live in Greece. Probably You consider a minority the small group of people who (with the financial support of the Yugoslav embassy in Sofia and the “Koukoush-1913” joint company) established the illegitimate organization OMO “Ilinden”. Their activities confine to their appearances on Skopje Television and in the anti-Bulgarian loudspeaker – the newspaper “Nova Macedonia”. Their slapstick actions are a subject of ridicule and regret in Bulgaria.

Third. In Your interview, You attributed a sign of equivalence between nationality and political regime in the Republic of Macedonia. Mr. Gligorov, political regimes are something transitory. They come and go, yet nationality remains. The regime of Serbo-Communism in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia has left painful memories in the consciousness of the population of the Republic of Macedonia. During a period of about 50 years, about 720 trials were held, resulting in over 200 death sentences; more than 20 000 citizens were killed without any trial or sentence; over 150 000 were sent to prisons and prison camps in Idrizovo, Goli Otok, etc.; another 180 000 were forced to leave the country seeking refuge in Bulgaria and in other countries all over the world – only because they wanted to remain Bulgarians. That population, subjected to genocide by Your ideological adherents and political regimes, has nothing in common with the ruling top.

Fourth. You often take unfair advantage of the “Bulgarian occupation in Macedonia”. For more than a half century you have identified the Bulgarians with fascists. Both in the past and at present, Bulgarians, like people all over the world, have had differing political convictions and views.The fact that the Bulgarian people availed themselves of the war-time situation to regain the territories torn from it by force of the Bucharest (1913) and Neuilly (1919) treaties, does not give You the right to use a forged terminology. Let us remind you that before the invasion of Bulgarian troops in Vardar Macedonia, the area already hosted Bulgarian action committees organized by the local population, which is a historical demonstration of a national self-identification and establishment of a local Bulgarian power. During that period, Mr. President, the whole population greeted with flowers, flags and church gonfalons “the occupiers”, as You termed them. Let us remind You that 70 % of the officers and 50 % of the soldiers were born in Macedonia. They were coming back to their native places and their relatives. That is why the population greeted them as liberators. This is testified by the archive documentaries which are being kept in our archives.

We would also like to remind you that, during the Bulgarian administration of Vardar Macedonia, dozens of schools, hospitals,roads and bridges were built; the construction of several railroads to Sofia started; all settlements were provided with town-settlement plans, etc. In other words, for less than 4 years Bulgaria did more than what was done during the 26-year-long Serb occupation. Yet, never and nowhere have You spoken out a single word against it. Our archives keep numerous documents about the active involvement of the young people of Vardar Macedonia in the social-political and cultural life.

Fifth. In the same interview, You rejoiced that it is the great advantage of the Republic of Macedonia and the “Macedonian language” that they avail of their own alphabet. Why are You unable, Mr. President, to tell the truth that this is not a Macedonian but a Serbian alphabet. Why did not You tell that it was made up by order of Tito, Djilas, Tempo and Kolishevski by special orthographic commissions (27 November – 3 December 1944)? Those commissions rejected the Bulgarian alphabet which had been used till 1913 by the Bulgarians throughout Macedonia, in 1373 schools and 13 high schools, by 2266 teachers and over 100 000 students. that was the alphabet used by all figures of the National Revival period, led by Dame Grouev, Gotse Delchev, Todor Alexandrov, etc. The Serbian alphabet which was introduced by the Serbs in 1913 and legitimized in 1944 infringed on the eleven-century-long all-Bulgarian cultural tradition started by Cyril and Methodius and their disciples Kliment and Naoum.

Mr. President, once upon a time, our great poet Ivan Vazov, who is of Macedonian origin, used to say – “You cannot quench the unquenchable”. You and your follower would not be able, in spite of every efforts made, to quench the Bulgarian spirit of the population of Macedonia. You are afraid that the notion of “One people in two states” might assert itself. You are right to do so because that is an idea which enjoys ever greater popularity among the people from both sides of the Rouen and Belasitsa mountains. That idea has also been a part of the programme of the national liberation movement of the Bulgarians in Macedonia for decades now. This is a righteous idea which has its future.

At present, the attitude of the Republic of Bulgaria towards the Republic of Macedonia is more than well-wishing one. Namely because of this Bulgaria:

1. Was the first country in the world to recognize Your state.
2. Helped you save your economy from a crash (without any signed agreements) and during the double economic embargo.
3. Did not consent to a division of the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.
4. Interceded with Russia and other countries for the recognition of Your state, and they listened to the voice of Sofia.

All this testifies to the fact that the Bulgarian state is not an enemy of the Republic of Macedonia, and that its people are a real brother to its people. You should not also forget that the Republic of Bulgaria is the home for over 3 million of Macedonian Bulgarians and their descendants who have been driven away by the Turkish, Serbian and Macedonian authorities, i. e. over than three times more than the Slavonic population of Macedonia. Therefore, we are not indifferent to the fate of the Republic of Macedonia.

Mr. Gligorov, in our capacity of Bulgarians from Macedonia and as scholars, we are well aware of the complex political heritage left by the Serbo-Communists to the Republic of Macedonia. Yet, the brothers from both sides of the Rouen and Belasitsa mountains, would like to live at peace and with wide open borders, instead of in an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility, imposed by the present government of Yours and servicing interests alien to both the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria.

September 1997
Macedonian Scientific Institute


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