Bulgaria’s expansionist strategy toward Macedonia has become evident with plans to open propagandist media stations, blocked EU negotiations until “Macedonians admit they are Bulgarians” and outright cries for “Bulgarian national unification”. Amongst the far right calls that have no place in the modern world, particularly modern Europe, the Macedonian government has placed an ethnic Albanian historian with the responsibility of agreeing on ‘historical facts’ about ethnic Macedonian history.
Angel Dzambaski, the VMRO-BND representative in EU Parliament, had disclosed the above as his country’s strategy and agenda towards Macedonia in a TV interview from 2019.
“Bulgaria hasn’t finished its national unification,” stated Dzambaski on the bTV news channel. The comment was directed at Macedonia, with Bulgarian ambitions to ‘awaken’ a Bulgarian identity in ethnic Macedonians – something even the fascist Bulgarian state couldn’t accomplish in its WW2 occupation of Macedonia.
Far-right statements denying Macedonian ethnicity whilst calling for expansionism have become commonplace over the years and are starting the gain momentum under the ultra-nationalist VMRO-BND party led by the Bulgarian Vice Premier Krasimir Karakachanov.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva has revealed her country is planning to start media production companies in Macedonia which would be a cornerstone in the ‘national awakening’ of the new Bulgarians in the country.
Bulgaria’s government has openly stated it will block Macedonia’s EU course “until they [Macedonians] become Bulgarians,” according to Dzambaski. He has previously called on a Macedonia without Bulgarians to “burn”.
The firebrand Bulgarian far-right member of the European Parliament, who has been accused numerous times of inciting hate against the Roma people of his country, is eager to remove the border between Macedonia and Bulgaria – a dream of a Greater or San Stefano Bulgaria that should have been abandoned last century.
The SDSM-DUI led Macedonian Government has done as much as it can to accommodate the Bulgarians, declaring a common history and accepting Bulgarian terms to sign a friendship agreement, which Bulgaria has since broken. As Bulgaria seeks a new revised agreement, the Macedonian Government searches for more ways to accept Bulgaria’s demands, this time firing a member of the History Commission – assigned the role of agreeing on historic matters, Aleksandar Litovski and replacing him with Isamedin Azizi, an Albanian from Macedonia whose doctoral theses has been dedicated to the Albanians in the Balkans.
An ethnic Albanian, albeit born in Macedonia, would have a far less difficult time making concessions to Bulgaria that that effect the historic memory and narrative of the Macedonian nation.
This move echoes the intention, as stated by Dzambaski, to wait for an Albanian historian to become part of the Macedonian negotiation team.
In the bTV interview, Dzambaski stated: “10 years from now we are probably going to talk to a professor other than Dragi Gjorgiev (head of Mk History Commission), someone who is Albanian.”
With little activity around the negotiation process, possibly until after the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria in March, which, according to the Bulgarian foreign minister, “isn’t going to change anything in the Bulgarian negotiating position.”