Since Bulgaria began upping its demands on Macedonia to further rewrite its history and continue redefining the ethnic identity of Macedonians – in order for Bulgaria to lift its veto of Macedonia’s EU membership bid and to conform to its policy of denying the existence of its large, persecuted Macedonian minority and Macedonians as a whole – many European politicians have condemned the move as “contrary to European values” and an affront to Macedonians’ most basic of human rights.
Bulgaria had followed the lead of Greece, which imposed its own demands on Macedonia including the forced name change into the highly offensive “North Macedonia” (designed to negate Macedonians’ ethnic identity and hand the term “Macedonia” to Greece) and abandonment of the large, persecuted Macedonian minority in Greece, in exchange for lifting its veto of Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership bids.
We believe that most EU parliamentarians and politicians are unaware of the devastating impact that the forced name, identity and history change is having on Macedonians throughout the Balkans, and the subsequent, exponential increase in human rights violations, hate speech, and attacks suffered by Macedonians. More information is available here.
As MHRMI has consistently highlighted, the regime in the Republic of Macedonia suppresses dissent against it and the forced name change, and has imposed a culture of fear by employing tactics such as: the imprisonment of dissenters; riot police attacking, beating and arresting peaceful protesters; firing (from public and private sector jobs) of thousands of Macedonians; shutting down media and imposing prison sentences for journalists; blocking social media access for individuals and media outlets; outlawing and criminalizing the use of the term “Macedonia”; the investigation and intimidation of Macedonian civilians including physical attacks and arson; and the continued unlawful detention of Macedonian political prisoners who are subject to abhorrent prison conditions.
At its core, the so-called Macedonian “conflict” is simple – no nation has the right to name (or rename) or define (redefine) another. Add to this fact that Bulgarian and Greek claims to Macedonia are – as they admit – designed to negate the existence, and persecution, of Macedonians within their borders. Despite the public proclamations by Bulgarian and Greek politicians nullifying the existence of Macedonians, declaring that they are “sub-human”, and celebrating that the recently signed treaties with Macedonia deny Macedonians’ rights to self-determination and self-identification, NATO and EU leaders have hailed them as “diplomatic successes”.
Case in point, after Bulgaria specifically announced its demands that Macedonia declare that Macedonians are “originally Bulgarian”, that the Macedonian language is a “Bulgarian dialect”, that there is “no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria”, and that Macedonia rewrite its history to deny that Bulgaria was an ally of Nazi Germany, the occupying power in Macedonia in WWII, and was “not responsible for the deportation of over 7,000 Macedonian Jews to the Treblinka death camp”, EU Spokesperson Ana Pisonero had the audacity to state:
“The Prespa agreement [with Greece], together with the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, set a positive example for the region and beyond. It is important that these bilateral agreements continue to be implemented in good faith.”
A country and ethnic group cannot, and must not be expected to, engage with its oppressors and “implement agreements in good faith” that are designed to eradicate their ethnic identity and basic right to self-determination.
Member of Croatian Parliament and former MEP, Marijana Petir, said:
“Nobody would tolerate the forced renaming of their country and redefinition of their identity. This should not be expected of Macedonians either. These are not the European values that we stand for. Macedonians must be allowed to embrace their name, culture, identity and history. I stand with Macedonia and Macedonians and call for my European colleagues to join me.”
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International thanks Ms. Petir and calls on all European parliamentarians and politicians – and all interested in defending human rights – to denounce the forced renaming of Macedonia, demand an end to NATO/EU anti-Macedonian policies and to defend Macedonia’s right to its own name, identity and history.