A Declaration in Protest against the removal of the words: “in view of the non-recognition of the existence of the Pomak and Macedonian minorities,” from the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly on the Post monitoring of Bulgaria

3 February, 2013

European Parliament In the name of the organizations of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, we express our enormous disappointment and shock at the removal of our minority from the final resolution. We are shocked, as the problems facing our minority and its negation in Bulgaria, are registered in numerous acts in the Council of Europe; in the reports of ECRI and by the Commission for Monitoring the Framework Convention, over the course of the last 13 years; in many statements by the Commissioner for Human Rights; and was also the subject of nine court hearings at the ECtHR, in which, dozens of incidents of the negation of the rights of members of the Macedonian minority of Bulgaria were recorded.

In this context, it was entirely logical to include the sentence quoted in the heading at the beginning of this declaration, in the PACE resolution. We have no objections to the text devoted to minorities in the resolution, though we categorically protest against the removal of our minority and also against the cynical and manipulative arguments which were employed in favour of the removal of the Macedonian minority.

It is because we believe the delegates were manipulated into approving the final form of the resolution, that we present this response.

I. Official recognition of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is necessary because Bulgaria implements an official politics of negation and denial, which manifests itself in the following ways:
A) Our existence has been denied by the Bulgarian parliament, with an official declaration in 1990; by Bulgarian Presidents, via official public statements made to the media; by the Constitutional Court in 2000; by the local court of Sofia in 2007; and by other lower level courts, for example between 2008 – 2010; by ministers and other authorities.
B) By the refusal to introduce a category for Macedonians in Bulgarian censuses and the rejection of all proposals to introduce such a category, with the argument that such an ethnic group “does not exist”. In relation to that, we mention the example of the removal from their posts in 2010, five public servants in the National Statistical Institute, because they permitted the creation of categories for “non-existent ethnicities”, especially Macedonians, in the draft census.
C) By refusing to accept the operation of the Framework Convention in relation to Macedonians.
D) There is not one political party in existence which recognizes the existence of our minority or that is concerned about defending the rights of our minority. Moreover, attempts to register such parties have been rejected. Two such parties have attempted registration over the last 13 years and registration was refused precisely because of their stance on Macedonians – OMO PIRIN and OMO “Ilinden” PIRIN. Registration laws have been changed on multiple occasions in order to prevent the registration of these parties. In this regard, a further change to the laws is being contemplated by the Bulgarian parliament at present.
E) The negation of our existence is not treated as hate speech, no legal action has been taken by the state against anyone who has engaged in public denial of our existence. Rather, such negations are readily accepted and we have been the object of public condemnation for our choice of identity. Indeed, our self-identification is treated as treason and alike.
F) Via the refusal to register NGO’s concerned with protecting the rights of Macedonians in Bulgaria.

In practice, from 1963 until the present, the position of the Bulgarian dictator, Todor Zhivkov: “that Bulgaria has no Macedonian minority and nor is it possible for it to have one”, has remained in force.

II. Thus the removal of our minority from the text will not contribute in the least to an advance in our rights, rather, it will be used as a means to further discrimination against us and it will serve to embolden our negation. In other words, the request of the Bulgarian representative was motivated by a desire to serve the politics of negation.

III. The assertion that there exist “several registered entities – NGO’s of people who identify themselves as Macedonians” is quite cynical – our organizations are not registered, even though some of them have been struggling to become registered for more than 20 years. In fact, they are compelled to operate as unregistered bodies, with all the limitations that imposes upon them. And the reason for their non-registration, according to the Bulgarian courts, is that the Macedonian minority “does not exist”, and therefore, on that basis, there cannot be any such organizations.

IV. The argument in support of official non-recognition, that there is no systemic bureaucratic machinery available to enable recognition, is not acceptable. There is no need for any special processes in relation to the recognition of a minority, all that is needed is good will and concrete positive actions. The question relating systemic matters would become applicable once all Bulgarian institutions recognize our existence, for the practical management of those rights emanating from the fact of our recognition.

V. The assertion that everyone in Bulgaria is free to express their ethnic affinity is not practically true. In Bulgaria there are no official documents containing categories for ethnic affiliation. In the census, categories for Macedonians and for most other minorities do not exist. The declarations of people presenting themselves as Macedonian are not accepted; they are treated as hostile and are used as a reason to discriminate against such people.

VI. The recognition of Macedonians can easily be achieved in the following manner:
a) An official declaration by the government stating that it recognizes our existence.
b) An acceptance of the Framework Convention in relation to our minority.
c) The introduction of a category for Macedonians in the next census.
d) The treatment of the negation of our minority as hate speech.
e) The acceptance of a representative of our minority in the relevant commission for minorities in Bulgaria.
VII. We believe that special attention needs to be given to the question about the apparent existence of an official list of recognized minorities, in relation to which the Bulgarian state implements the Framework Convention. For, if such a list truly exists, then it will evidently confirm the official non-recognition of the remaining not listed minorities. If such a list exists, then it is necessary for it to be publically revealed and annulled or be made legitimate by adding the minorities not presently on it.

Respectfully,
OMO “Ilinden” PIRIN (Mr. Stoyko Stoykov)
The newspaper “People’s Will” (Mr. Georgi Hristov)
The Association of Repressed Macedonians in Bulgaria (Mr. Stoyan Gerasimov)
Macedonian Christian Brotherhood “St. Prokorok Iliya” (Mr. Emil Eftimov)
KPD “Nikola Vaptsarov” (Mr. Damian Rizakov)
KPD “Ilinden” (Mr. Krum Filatov)
Macedonian Club for Ethnic Tolerance (Mr. Angel Radonov)
Bulletin “Macedonian Voice” (Mr. Iliya Delilakiev)

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