Bulgaria, Sofia

On the Macedonian Authenticity

The ruling of the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg related to the court trial “Boris Stankov and OMO Ilinden Against Bulgaria” is a clear signal for the Bulgarian State leadership. This means that it will find itself in the position of a loser unless it stops violating the rights of our co-citizens self-determined as Macedonians to manifest their authenticity by free association and peaceful rallies. In this case, Bulgaria was accused of a multiple violation of the right to peaceful rallies on the tomb of Jane Sandanski. A few similar processes are currently ongoing, the latest of which is the violation of the right to free association of the OMO “Ilinden PIRIN.” (The Constitutional Court released ruling N. 1 of 29 February 2000 by which it proclaimed the OMO “Ilinden-PIRIN” party was anti-constitutional). It is not hard to assume that Bulgaria will lose this process in Strasbourg as well. At the moment, according to some assessments, about 2 million people live in Bulgaria who originate from the three parts of Macedonia: the Vardar part, which is today’s Republic of Macedonia, the Pirin (in Bulgaria), and the Aegean (in Greece), the majority of whom have kept a strongly expressed Bulgarian awareness. At the same time there are a few thousand people living with us who are ethnically self-determined as Macedonians, thus forming the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. According to the population census of 1992, the exact number of these persons is 10,803 (1), of which 3,109 declare that Macedonian is their mother tongue (2). These pieces of information are not present in the official publications of the National Institute of Statistics. This (burdened with pseudo-political conceit allegedly for the protection of the “Bulgarian national interests”) “Strauss-like” attitude is an impediment to an objective dialogue. The relative data from the latest census carried out in 2000 have not yet been publicized. The attempts of the competent Bulgarian institutions at befogging the objective picture make possible the large expansion, including professional literature, of speculative claims according to which the size of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is between 150,000 and 250,000 people. So, for instance, in his research published by the Council of Europe, Michel Foucher presents the figure of 200,000 (Foucher Michel, 1994). In the encyclopedia edited by the Minorities’ Rights Group International with the introduction of Alain Philips- the first vice-president of the Commission of advisors proposing the Frame Convention for the protection of national minorities with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe - the article on Bulgaria reads that the basic languages in Bulgaria are Bulgarian, Turkish and Macedonian, and that the Macedonians are among the major minority groups, whose number is 250,000 or 2.9 percent of the total population according to the authors (Rady Martyn and Szajkowski Bogdan, 1998). Other similar examples can also be attached. As regards the language, the following remark deserves attention: On the one hand, an independent literature norm has been defined in the Republic of Macedonia (although it is on the same general speech base with the Bulgarian literature norm), the Macedonian language has been defined as literary, and it is different from the Bulgarian language. On the other hand, the question is when do our co-citizens declare that their mother tongue is Macedonian. As a rule, when one of them says that he speaks Macedonian, he actually speaks in an appropriate regional language that is characteristic for the inhabited area in which he lives or from which he originates. At the same time, many other people live in the same region (and they are the majority) using the same speech, and yet they declare themselves Bulgarians and say that their mother tongue is Bulgarian. This is why it is difficult to speak about a Macedonian language minority in Bulgaria. If we enlarge the geographical picture of the entire Balkans, we could note more than one “Macedonian authenticity” that is in some cases overlapped but in other cases manifested as different. As a matter of fact, it has to do with three types of authenticity: - Macedonian political authenticity - Macedonian national (ethnic) authenticity - Macedonian regional authenticity. One of the reasons for this “multiple” authenticity may be searched for in the historical failure of the “United Macedonia” project of the 20th century. Let us view each of the Macedonian types of authenticity separately: 1. Macedonian political authenticity. It appears at the end of the 19th century among the founders of the Macedonian liberation movement related to the request for meeting Article 2 of the Berlin Agreement. The stance for Macedonia’s political independence is imposed as a formula that indicates the only way for its free development without damaging its entity. Specified, first of all, in the request for autonomy – with a different motivation (as a phase from the unification with Bulgaria or directed to future independence) and in a different context (in the frameworks of the Ottoman Empire, a “Great Eastern Federation,” a “Balkan federalization,” a “South-Slav Federation,” under the sponsorship of the League of Nations), the understanding of political independence evolved and we can conclude that between the two world wars, all the Macedonian theories, regardless of their mutual contrasts, led to the formulation of the unique goal – independence. (See, for instance, Paleshutski Kostadin, 1992, Dobrinov Decho, 1993). In the movement for a politically independent and unique Macedonia lie the roots of the concept for a Macedonian nation as a political (civil) nation that is consolidated and mobilized from the aspiration to indivisibility and independence. It is necessary to stress that in this process of continuation for many years there had not been an overlap between the political and the ethnic authenticity. Exactly the opposite: the founders of the Macedonian revolutionary movement, as well as the actors from the later period, as a rule self-proclaimed themselves as Bulgarians by nationality (see for instance Ljubcho Georgievski, 1994). An extremist example of this is Vancho Mihajlov, in whose book “Macedonia: Switzerland in the Balkans” the view about a unique, politically independent, multi-ethnic and, as a consequence to this, cantonized Macedonia, acquired its final shape (Mihajlov Ivan, 1945). The VMRO (United), which is on the opposite side, which was created in 1925 under the strong influence of the Komintern, parallel with the formulation of its basic goal “Independent Macedonia in a Balkan Federation,” in its foundation documents points out that the Slavs in Macedonia are Bulgarians, and the “Macedonian nation” is referred to as a collection of all nationalities inhabiting Macedonia, in which sense the term “Macedonians” is used (Dobrinov Decho, 1993, Georgievski Ljubcho, 1994). The culminating moment in defining the Macedonian political authenticity was the holding of the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) in “St. Prohor Pchinski” on 2 August 1944.It adopted documents of a foundation character for the Macedonian State as a federative unit of Yugoslavia (Michev Dobrin, 1994, Kiselinovski Stojan – editor in chief, 2000) and presently – the 8 September 1991 referendum when 91 percent of the voters were in favor of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia (Nedeva Ivanka, 1994). 2. Macedonian ethnic authenticity. It is developed parallel to the Macedonian political authenticity, but with a significantly displaced level of intensity in the course of the time. The factors conditioning the course of the process demand special systematization and analysis. Here the ideas of Stojan Novakovich can be mentioned in fragments and the “Association of Serb-Macedonians” formed by him in Istanbul in 1886 (Dzambazovski Kl., 1965), as well as the controversial activity of Krste Misirkov – author of “About the Macedonian Matters” (Trajkov Veselin, 1998). The Komintern and the communist parties in the region, particularly the Bulgarian Communist Party during the 30’s, the 40’s and the first half of the 50’s in the last century, had a strong influence on the stimulation of the process of ethnic transformation from Bulgarian to Macedonian ethnic authenticity (Michev Dobrin, 1994). Anyway, we can conclude today that the Macedonian ethnic authenticity was imposed among the population of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as among a part of the population in Albania and Greece. 3. Macedonian regional authenticity. The situation of the Greek part of Macedonia – Aegean Macedonia is interesting. During the 20th century, this territory was exposed to great migration processes during the wars – by the force of the agreements on exchange of the population with Turkey and Bulgaria and as a result of the civil war after the Second World War. Today, Greece is facing the challenge of withstanding the tradition in its so-far national politics and recognizing the fact that ethnic minorities live on its territory. In Aegean Macedonia, with the mechanisms of the state propaganda inclusive, a strong Macedonian regional authenticity has been determined. In Thessaloniki the name “Macedonia” is met at every step. The star of the Vergina – the symbol of the ancient Macedonian kingdom – is seen on bus tickets and on reverse of coins. The Greek Government has a special Minister for Trachia and Macedonia. The variant of the Macedonian regional authenticity may be followed through the numerous parts of the population of Bulgaria that is linked to Macedonia with its origin. It can be illustrated with the example of the expressions like: “Bulgarians, but from Macedonia” or “Bulgarians with a Macedonian root.” At the end of this report, let us again draw attention to the Republic of Macedonia, whose society is momentarily in a deep crisis. It can be characterized as a conflict between two ethnic nationalisms – Macedonian and Albanian. The piling-up of the Macedonian ethnic authenticity over the Macedonian political authenticity gave birth in the Republic of Macedonia (formerly the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in the framework of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia) to Macedonian ethnic nationalism directed toward the unification of the three parts of Macedonia in the frameworks of the Republic, as well as directed towards a domination over the other nationalities. An expression of this ethnic nationalism was the inclusion of the text “Macedonia is constituted as a national state of the Macedonian people, which secures full civil equality and permanent co-existence of the Macedonian people with the Albanians, the Turks, the Vlachs, the Romas and the other nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia” (1991 Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia) in the preamble of the 1991 Macedonian Constitution. The great question is whether the conflict of Macedonian ethnic nationalism with the lively and expansionistic Albanian ethnic nationalism will lead to a complete fragmentation of two separate national communities, i.e. to a two-nation state and, as a consequence, to the breaking-up of the state or – on the basis of the principles of civil society and multi-ethnic pluralism, the crisis will be overcome and there will be a transition to consolidation of a general national community (in the sense of the political or civil nation, which is the same). The second way would coincide harmonically with the European process of integration, and it is a prerequisite for Macedonia’s participation in it. On the other hand, the European and the civil context removes the danger of a confrontation between the Macedonian political authenticity and the Bulgarian political authenticity, because: First: In the frameworks of the Bulgarian State the determination of the civil society of the Bulgarian nation as a civil (political) nation decreases the potential of confrontation of one, by nature ethnic confrontation, born from the fact about the existence of a Macedonian national minority in Bulgaria. Second: As regards the relationship between the two states – the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria – their common aspiration for integration in the European structures removes the danger of mutual tension because in a united Europe they lose their materiality – they become symbolic, and thus every expansionistic ethnic nationalistic aspiration becomes a nonsense. This understanding came to an expression in the signing of the 22 February 1999 Declaration between the prime ministers of the two countries. 1. The figure 10,803 was unofficially revealed to the author in 1993 by a representative of the Central Commission for population census who was an advisor to President Zhelev, and it became public through his publications. 2. 2. The figure 3,109 for those who declared in 1992 that their mother tongue was Macedonian finally became public through the statements of our diplomats (ECRI, 2000). LITERATURE - Georgievski Ljubcho. Who is to make peace with who, Skopje, 1994 - Dobrinov Decho. VMRO (United), University Edition “St. Clement of Ohrid,” Sofia, 1993