EP Urges Macedonia to Form Joint Committee on History with Bulgaria
The European Parliament has urged the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to create a joint expert committee with Bulgaria to tackle the sensitive issue of history education in the country.
The committee's task will be to further the objective interpretation of historical events, increase the cooperation in the academic field and improve the attitudes youngsters have towards their neighbors, the European Parliament has explained.
It was Bulgarian MEP from the Group of Socialists and Democrats Evgeni Kirilov who came up with the proposal for a joint expert committee. Kirilov's proposal was included in the amendments to the draft resolution on Macedonia's progress that was passed by the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.
Macedonia has tried to "steal" key parts of Bulgaria's history on a number of occasions. In 2011, the Macedonian government erected statues of medieval Bulgarian ruler Samuil and other historical figures who were active in the region in an effort to showcase what the country perceives as its own "historical heritage".
Since the early Middle Ages, all the way to the first half of the 20th century, Macedonia and its Slavic population were considered part of the Bulgarian nation not just by Bulgaria but also by its neighbors and the international community. This is why from its National Liberation in 1878 till 1944 Bulgaria waged five wars attempting to unite all of the Bulgarian-populated lands in the Balkans, including Macedonia – after the San Stefano Treaty of March 1878 providing one state for almost all Bulgarian-populated regions was revised three months later by the European Great Powers in the Treaty of Berlin leaving the regions of Thrace and Macedonia out of Bulgaria.
After both World War I and World War II, however, Serbia/Yugoslavia kept control of 40% of the territory of the geographic and historical region of Macedonia, the so called Vardar Macedonia (which in 1991 became the Republic of Macedonia), Greece retained about 50% of the region – the so called Aegean Macedonia, while only 10% of the region – the so called Pirin Macedonia – remained in Bulgaria.
The foundations of the contemporary Macedonian nation were invented in 1944 by Yugoslavia's communists at a special congress that also proclaimed the creation of a Macedonian language and a Macedonian alphabet designed to differentiate the dialects spoken in the region of Macedonia from the Bulgarian language and to underline the creation of a distinct Macedonian national identity.
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