Bulgaria Has Own Stance on Macedonia-Greece Name Dispute - FM

Politics » DIPLOMACY | June 8, 2012, Friday // 19:38
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Has Own Stance on Macedonia-Greece Name Dispute - FM Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Mladenov (left) with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (right) at the "The Balkans in the Global World" forum in Sofia. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov has reiterated Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's position that Bulgaria does not agree with Macedonia calling itself "Republic of Northern Macedonia" as a way to resolve its name dispute with Greece.

Earlier on Friday, Borisov said the name "Republic of Northern Macedonia" is absolutely unacceptable for Bulgaria, referring to the Greece-Macedonia dispute for the name of the latter, in which Greece is concerned that Macedonia's state name could be used to make claims on Greek districts with the same geographic name.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Mladenov spoke at an international conference in Sofia entitled, "The Balkans in the Global World: Encouraging the Region's European Perspective".

He told Macedonian reporters that he does not like the "constant harassment" of Bulgaria on part of Macedonia, apparently referring to the anti-Bulgarian hate language often employed by Macedonian media and even some state officials.

"We were the first to recognize our neighbor under the name "Republic of Macedonia." We were the first sovereign state to recognize its independence, and there is no change in this respect," Mladenov declared.

The questions he got asked by the Macedonian reporters were as follows, "Why are you angry at the Macedonian leadership?"; "Why does the policy of disappointment on your part lead to a cold peace between Bulgaria and Macedonia, and there are no contacts between the two nations?"

"Bulgaria isn't intervening in the dialogue between Macedonia and Greece about the name dispute because this is a bilateral thing but when different options are put on the table, we too have our positions on that," Bulgaria's top diplomat explained.

Mladenov underscored his view that all countries in the Balkans must subscribe to the European rules, realizing their EU perspective.

"All of our issues – bilateral, historical, political, commercial, infrastructural, whathaveyou, can only be resolved in this context," he said.

Mladenov also reiterated Bulgarian PM Borisov's words that Bulgaria has always been backing up Macedonia's integration with NATO and the EU.

"Whether and how it will be realized – this is primarily up to Macedonia itself, and the reforms going on there, and, of course, the finding of a compromise solution with Greece on the bilateral dispute," he added.

"We've been living in the Balkans for a long time, we know each other very well, we know our customs, and habits," Mladenov concluded.

Macedonia is registered at international organizations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because of the name dispute, rather than Republic of Macedonia at Greece's insistence, which fears the name "Macedonia" might spur territorial claims for its northern regions.

Greece and international intermediaries have suggested that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should adopt a name such as "Republic of Northern Macedonia" or "Republic of Macedonia-Skopje", which have been rejected by the Macedonian authorities.

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 1943-4 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. The rationale of communist Yugoslavia and of Serbia before that for the creation of a distinct Macedonian nation being to weaken Bulgaria.

In the recent years, however, with the democratic transitions in the region, the "ethnic Macedonian" identity has been eroded, with dozens of thousands of citizens of the Republic of Macedonia receiving Bulgarian citizenship based on their Bulgarian origin.

Unlike Greece, which gets enraged by Macedonia's moves toying with the cultural heritage from the Antiquity period and is tangled with Macedonia in the notorious name dispute, Bulgaria's governments traditionally react to propaganda fits by Skopje with disregard, while the general public in Bulgaria accepts them with ridicule. To the extent that Bulgaria has made any claims towards Macedonia, those have boiled down to the refusal to allow Skopje to hijack Bulgaria's historical heritage from the Middle Ages and the 19th century Revival Period.

Bulgaria was the first sovereign nation to recognize the independence of the Republic of Macedonia in 1992.

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Tags: FYROM, greece, territorial claims, Boyko Borisov, Blagoevgrad, Northern Macedonia, macedonia, name dispute, Macedonian media, Macedonian language, Berlin Treaty, San Stefano Treaty, Skopje, Bozhidar Dimitrov, name dispute, greece, Aegean Macedonia, Pirin Macedonia, Vardar Macedonia, Southwest Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad District, Georgi Dimitrov, USSR, Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Tito, Josip Broz Tito, Bulgarian Communist Party, Communist Bulgaria, communist regime, Macedonians, macedonia, FYROM, propaganda, Omo Ilinden Pirin, Nikola Poposki, Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov
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