C. Other evidence concerning the aims and the activities of the applicant association and its supporters

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32. The parties made submissions and presented copies of documents concerning the activities of the applicant association.

It appears that some of the documents relied upon by the Government concern statements of persons adhering to a faction or a branch of the applicant association. Those groups apparently differed in their views and activities.

33. The Government relied on the declaration of 20 April 1991 (see paragraph 16 above), on the police report concerning the meetings of 1990 and 1991 (see paragraph 17 above) and on other material.

The Government submitted that during meetings, in letters to institutions or in statements to the media persons associated with the applicant association and its supporters had made declarations to the effect that they wished that the Bulgarians left the region of Pirin Macedonia and stated that there could be “no peace on the Balkans unless the Bulgarians, the Geeks and all others recognise the national rights of the Macedonian people and no democracy in any Balkan country without such recognition”.

34. The Government submitted copies of several issues of Vestnik za Makedonzite v Balgaria i Po Sveta and Makedonska poshta, pamphlets published by one of the factions linked to the applicant association, and copies of press material. These contain information, inter alia, about a “secret” private meeting of a faction of the applicant association held on 28 September 1997. The meeting allegedly declared that on 10 August 1998 the region of Pirin Macedonia would become “politically, economically and culturally autonomous” or independent. That was so because on that day, 85 years after the Bucharest treaty of 1913, the States Parties to it were allegedly under the obligation to withdraw from the “enslaved” Macedonian territories.

Makedonska poshta further invited all Macedonians to a procession in Sofia on 3 August 1998. The invitation stressed that the participants should not carry arms.

35. A hand-written poster, allegedly issued by followers of the applicant association in Petrich, called for a boycott of the 1994 parliamentary elections “to prevent the establishment of legitimate Bulgarian authorities in the region” of Pirin Macedonia. The document further called for a united Macedonian State and for “an international invasion” by the Security Council of the United Nations “according to the model of Grenada, Kuwait and Haiti”.

36. An appeal for a boycott of the 1997 elections stated that the Macedonians should abstain from voting in protest against the lack of recognition of their rights as a minority.

37. In a declaration published in the press in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the leaders of a faction linked to the applicant association criticised the Bulgarian authorities for their refusal to recognise the Macedonian language and the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and appealed to various international organisations to exert pressure on the Bulgarian authorities in this respect.

38. The Government submitted a copy of a “memorandum” addressed to the United Nations, signed by activists of the applicant association or a faction of it, dated 1 July 1997. It contains a short overview of historical events, complaints about the attitude of the Bulgarian authorities and the following main demands: collective minority rights, access to Bulgarian State archives, the return of confiscated material, the revision of the way Bulgarian history is seen, the revision of international treaties of 1912 and 1913, the dissolution of the “political police”, the dissolution of nationalistic and violent parties and organisations, the registration of Ilinden as the legitimate organisation of the Macedonians in Bulgaria, radio broadcasts in Macedonian, an investigation into violations committed against Macedonians, and economic assistance.

The appeal also stated:

“[...] being conscious of the contemporary economic and political realities in the Balkans, Europe and the world, we are not acting through confrontation, tension or violence. Our way to achieve enjoyment of our rights as a Macedonian ethnic minority in Bulgaria and in Pirin Macedonia, where our ethnic and historical roots lie, is through peaceful means and negotiations... Our peaceful and lawful means [...] are to the advantage of the authorities who [...] deny the existence of a Macedonian minority. Our democratic ways are to our detriment: the authorities can afford political, economic and psychological pressure, and arms.”

39. Before the Court the Government relied on a judgment of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court of 29 February 2000 in a case concerning the constitutionality of a political party, the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden-PIRIN: Party for Economic Development and the Integration of the Population (“UMOIPIRIN”), which had been registered by the competent courts in 1999. The Constitutional Court found that that party’s aims were directed against the territorial integrity of the country and that therefore it was unconstitutional.

40. The Constitutional Court noted that UMOIPIRIN could be regarded as a successor to or a continuation of the applicant association. On that basis the Constitutional Court relied extensively on submissions about the history and the activities of the applicant association in the assessment of the question whether UMOIPIRIN was constitutional. In particular, the Constitutional Court took note of the demands made in the declaration of the applicant association of 20 April 1991 (see paragraph 16 above). It also observed that maps of the region, depicting as Macedonian parts of Bulgarian and Greek territory, had been published by the association and that there had been repeated calls for autonomy and even secession. The Constitutional Court further noted that representatives of the applicant association had made offensive remarks against the Bulgarian nation.

41. The Constitutional Court thus found that the applicant association and UMOIPIRIN considered the region of Pirin as a territory which was only temporarily under Bulgarian control and would soon become independent. Their activities were therefore directed against the territorial integrity of the country and were as such prohibited under Article 44 § 2 of the 1991 Constitution. The prohibition was in conformity with Article 11 § 2 of the Convention, there being no doubt that an activity against the territorial integrity of the country endangered its national security.

The judgment was adopted by nine votes to three. The dissenting justices gave separate opinions which have not been published.