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BURST Macedonian-Bulgarian relations: Fight between reason and populism

The more difficult way of overcoming the problem that the Bulgarian side has unilaterally opposed, is to remain reasonable, constructive and with a view to the future. And being reasonable and constructive, seeking solutions, does not mean withdrawing and giving up the Macedonian identity, as those from VMRO (and those with Bulgarian passports and until recently Bulgarian self-determination) wish to show.

by: XHABIR DERALLA

There are more ways to react to the attack from the current leadership of the Republic of Bulgaria on the Macedonian integration processes and Macedonian language and people. However, the Bulgarian insistence regarding the identity issues, outside the treaty of friendship from 2017, has an exceptionally short time limit. Still, the consequences can be long-term and difficult.

At one point, in the near future, it can be expected for Bulgarian nationalists (how else to call them?) to return to the negotiations runningly, demanding the dark chapters of their history not to be opened. Because, facing the past is a process they have never started, and it implies sincerely facing their own historical heritage. Unlike other European nations that have beared responsibility in a dignified manner and have faced their own historical past, Bulgaria lives in a fog of delusions about their role in historical events and processes.

FACING THE PAST… OOPS!

Facing the past means also to bear responsibility as a state, an obligation to respect human rights, above all, the right to find out the truth and to obtain justice for the evil and violence inflicted in a certain historical period in a country. Here, let us not go further, it is enough to mention the years of the Second World War. The day is not far when European and world archives will release documents and testimonies for which Bulgarian leaders and their cocooned academics will say “Oops! Well, now we have allowed a mistake!”.

I will not talk about the Macedonians in Bulgaria, even though there is much to say. But I do believe that at some point Turkey will also say “a word or two” about the dark “operation” of Todor Zhivkov for assimilation of the Turks towards the end of the 1980s of the previous century, when more than 350,000 Turks left Bulgaria. That was a time of fierce violation of human rights and human casualties in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria says that the Macedonian side is not fulfilling the agreement. On the contrary, the whole world has seen, but also loudly spoken out about who, in fact, is violating the treaty on friendship, and in the most gross possible way – by violating the right to self-determination. The treaty speaks of a common history, and now, what can be common can only be Bulgarian. Where is the logic? Nevertheless, nationalism has never relied on logic, therefore we will not even look for it.

In this case, the Bulgarian side is trying to avoid facing its own past on the back of the Macedonian national interests and EU integration. It does not go that way.

THE EASY AND HARD WAY

Well, now, the easiest way for us to face such politics is to start a populist settling of scores with hate speech and divisions. This does not bring good to anyone, it closes borders between people, both visible and invisible. Populists and nationalists can have short-term benefit from that, only for themselves and their close collaborators, but all the rest suffer on the long run.

The more difficult way of overcoming the problem that the Bulgarian side has unilaterally opposed, is to remain reasonable, constructive and with a view to the future. And being reasonable and constructive, seeking solutions, does not mean withdrawing and giving up the Macedonian identity, as those from VMRO (and those with Bulgarian passports and until recently Bulgarian self-determination) wish to show.

STATESMAN STATEMENT

Prime Minister Zaev gave another statesman statement about this dispute, another position by which both the domestic and international public will remember him. “I am convinced that with positive decisions we build friendship, and with negative decisions we build bitterness… the two peoples are truly with a common past, and from that common history, the present Macedonian and Bulgarian peoples have developed. Why is the common not enough? How can it be common and be Bulgarian? Or be common, and be Macedonian?” – he stated from Strumica, where his family donated an ambulance to the Strumica Hospital.

And with this statement, Zaev, winner of multiple prestigious international recognitions and awards for contribution to peace, democracy and human rights, once again showed that populism and nationalist hysteria does not have to be spread in order to achieve the goals and to defend the Macedonian national interests. Therefore, it is no surprise that Zaev this year is winner of an international award for human rights that is awarded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin on November 16 this year, where the greatest European leaders are included in the program.

CONSTRUCTIVE AS OPPOSED TO ABSURD APPROPRIATION

The autochthony of the Macedonian language and identity is not negotiable, nor can it be negotiable. This is at least clear from the positions of the state leadership. However, the firmness in regards to these positions cannot and must not be turned into nationalist hysteria. There is a thin line between nationalist hysteria and dignified statesman attitude. It is not nationalism if you do not give in to absurd demands, blackmail and pressures that are, actually, contrary to international law.

Since when has the right to self-determination become an argument for disputing someone’s identity, as the Bulgarian side is doing? Here, it is not about a dispute over the history or fabrication of historical facts such as there are, certainly, everywhere around the world, and especially in the Balkans. Here, it is about an absurd appropriation of an entire language and identity, and that appropriation is being carried out, pardon dear neighbours Bulgarians, precisely by the Bulgarian political leadership. Ultimately, the Bulgarian citizens should live with such policy, not us. All of us together will suffer, but the Bulgarians the most. They need to think about this when they go to the elections. So, if the past is common, it is neither Bulgarian, nor Macedonian. If the future is European, it belongs to all of us.

 

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