North Macedonia: Two-Year Suspension of the Historical Commission with Bulgaria
The chairman of the Macedonian part of the joint commission on historical and educational issues with Bulgaria, Prof. Dragi Georgiev, openly stated that he did not mind a freeze on the work of the commission.
According to him, this would lead to “relaxation of the political atmosphere between the two countries. If at this point the historic commission is creating a problem on the path taken by the two governments in order to relax the political atmosphere, I would agree to freeze the work of the commission for a year or two, because again we have the feeling that this commission is creating problems. If there is a real desire to make some progress between Macedonia and Bulgaria at all levels, this decision would not be so scary, because we have been in historical conflict with Bulgaria for 70 years. Freezing the work of this commission for 1-2 years will mean nothing and at the same time may allow things to move forward on other things,” Georgiev told Thelma TV.
He also stressed that there are Macedonians in Bulgaria.
“There are Macedonians in Bulgaria and no one can deny this fact. I personally have friends who are Macedonians and they live in Bulgaria,” Georgiev said.
BGNES reminds that only a week ago during the joint meeting of the two governments - RNM and Bulgaria, at the Boyana residence, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov announced that there will be three meetings of the commission in the coming months.
“The historical commission has no role in deciding to jointly commemorate Gotse Delchev between North Macedonia and Bulgaria,” Dragi Georgiev said, stressing that the decision was a gesture of goodwill by both governments to brighten the political atmosphere in the two countries. “I see this political gesture as goodwill, as the political will of both sides to lighten the political atmosphere on the most sensitive hot issues that exist,” he said.
According to Georgiev, the public should be informed that although the commission is still discussing and does not find a solution for the joint celebration of Delchev, the governments of the two countries as a gesture of goodwill decided to jointly honor him. He added that this is a purely political decision of the governments and the commission has no participation in it and continues to discuss Gotse Delchev.
Georgiev added that they have been working for nearly two years to agree on a text that refers to Gotse Delchev and that should present the ideas why both countries should celebrate this historical figure and why it is important for both societies.
He also touched on the issue of common history, noting that this phrase is also used in the Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness. “As it is not precisely defined in the agreement, it gives the Bulgarian side the freedom to interpret it with pure ethnic content. According to Bulgarian colleagues, common history means the history of one people, i.e. the Bulgarian people from the 9th century until 1944, when with the formation of the People's Republic of Macedonia, within Federal Yugoslavia, the Macedonian people was created overnight, according to their interpretation. The Bulgarian side follows the concept of a nation, a historical nation, whose formation began in the 9th century with a lasting ethnic homogenization of the proto-Bulgarian and Slavic population on the territory of the first medieval Bulgarian empire. Then the Bulgarian people were created and this continuity of the Bulgarian people lasted until 1944 on the territory of Macedonia and that is why they consider the common history to be the history of only one people, that is, of the Bulgarian people”.
Of course, we came into sharp conflict with them because we do not accept such an interpretation of this phrase, Georgiev said. Historiography as a science, he says, has developed several concepts that can explain the points of contact between two countries, two cultures. It uses such terms as intertwined history, shared history, common history.
“So we can talk about a common history, I would say within the example of the Ottoman Empire. We have a common history with all the peoples of the Balkans who were part of this empire because we lived in the same social conditions, the population had one ruler, paid the same taxes and all this makes the coexistence of one population. In this sense, we have a common history with the former peoples of Yugoslavia. Of course, in all these communities there is a special micro-history, microculture, folklore of all communities, but we cannot say that we do not have a common history with all the peoples who were in this community,” said Georgiev.
He described as scientifically untenable and outright unacceptable the claims of the Bulgarian side for a common history of the Bulgarian people from the 9th century to 1944.
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