E. Government’s summary of the historical context
47. The Government stressed that knowledge of the historical context and of the current situation in Bulgaria and on the Balkans was essential for the understanding of the issues in the present case. Their explanation may be summarised as follows:
“Historically, the Bulgarian nation consolidated within several geographical regions, one of them being the geographical region of Macedonia. In 1878, when Bulgaria was partially liberated from Turkish dominance, the Berlin Peace Treaty left the region of Macedonia within the borders of Turkey. Between 1878 and 1913 the Bulgarian population of Macedonia organised five unsuccessful uprisings seeking liberation from Turkish rule and union with Bulgaria. There followed massive refugee migrations from the region to the Bulgarian motherland. Hundreds of thousands of Macedonian Bulgarians settled in Bulgaria.
In 1934 the so-called ‘Macedonian nation’ was proclaimed for the first time by a resolution of the Communist International. Before that no reliable historical source had ever mentioned any Slavic population in the region other than the Bulgarian population. After the Second World War the Communist power in Yugoslavia proclaimed the concept of a separate Macedonian nation. A separate language and alphabet were created and imposed by decree of 2 August 1944. A massive assimilation campaign accompanied by brutalities was launched in Yugoslavia. For a short period of time the Bulgarian Communist Party – inspired by the idea of creating a Bulgarian-Yugoslav federation – also initiated a campaign of forcible imposition of a ‘Macedonian’ identity on the population in the region of Pirin Macedonia. In the 1946 and 1956 censuses individuals living in that region were forced to declare themselves ‘Macedonians’. The campaign was abandoned in 1963, partly due to the refusal of the population to change their identity.
In those parts of the geographical region of Macedonia which were in Yugoslavia the realities of the bi-polar cold-war world – where the relations between Yugoslavia and the socialist block dominated by the USSR were tense – exacerbated the population’s feeling of doom and exasperation and their fear that unification with Bulgaria proper would never be possible. The forcible imposition of a Macedonian identity by the Tito regime also played a decisive role. Therefore, even if a process of formation of a new nation has taken place, it was limited to the territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In the 1992 census, only 3,019 Bulgarian citizens identified themselves as Macedonians and indicated Macedonian as their mother tongue. Another 7,784 declared themselves Macedonians in the geographical sense, while allegedly indicating their Bulgarian national conscience and mother tongue.
Individuals considering themselves Macedonians are far from being discriminated against in Bulgaria. They have their own cultural and educational organisation, Svetlina. There are books and newspapers in the ‘Macedonian language’”.