Statement by OMO ”Ilinden”- PIRIN, member of the European Free Alliance regarding the letter circulated to European MPs by Angel Dzambaski, ultranationalist and member of the European Parliament

29 July, 2014

Angel Dzambaski OMO "Ilinden" - PIRIN, MHRMI and AMHRC

It is sad indeed that the European Parliament contains ultranationalists such as the representative of VMRO, mister Angel Dzambaski, who is known in Bulgaria for his racist statements regarding Roma and the insults he has directed against Macedonians. It is therefore no surprise that he is abusing his new position in order to spread hatred and disinformation in the European Parliament. According to him there are no Macedonians in Macedonia which has “historically always been predominantly populated by Bulgarians”. This same person, not surprisingly, also denies our existence as Macedonians in Bulgaria.

Why are we paying any attention to a person with such a primitive world view? Because mister Dzambaski’s statements, even though they emanate from an ultra- nationalist, in essence reflect the views and thoughts of the majority or almost all Bulgarian European MPs. His letter, if nothing else, serves as a good example of the extreme, irrational nationalism which is displayed in Bulgaria vis-a-vis the Macedonians, irrespective of whether they live in Macedonia or Bulgaria.

We have always stated that we respect and support the rights of all minorities, irrespective of their size and, in that regard, the rights of the Bulgarian minority in Macedonia. If the discrimination that mister Dzambaski speaks of did in fact exist in Macedonia, we would protest against it as we consider that all discrimination is impermissible and something that should concern us. Fortunately, however, the status of Bulgarians in Macedonia is not as Dzambaski describes it. Proof of that is the fact that not one international human rights organization has noted any discrimination and mistreatment of Bulgarians in Macedonia.

It is for this reason that we have come to the unavoidable conclusion that what we are confronted with is a kind of "sick fantasy" typical of Bulgarian nationalists: namely, given their conviction that Macedonians and a Macedonian nation do not exist, they justify the absence or scarcity of a Bulgarian consciousness in Macedonia by pointing to an invisible reign of terror which exists only in their minds.

We are convinced that each and every minority in Bulgaria would give a lot to be able to enjoy the opportunities and rights which the law provides for minorities in the Republic of Macedonia. In Macedonia not only is the Framework Agreement (which in Bulgaria exists only on paper) implemented consistently, but every minority which comprises 20% of the population in either the whole country or in a municipality obtains the right to have its language treated as an official language at the corresponding level of government, as well as certain special rights contained in this same Agreement.

In contrast to the mere five minutes of news in Turkish on one television station in Bulgaria, in Macedonia there is one television station devoted entirely to minorities, as well as a series of programs supported by the state on other television and radio stations, etc. While in Macedonia education to secondary school level is carried out in the language of the minorities, in Bulgaria the study of one’s mother tongue is provided as an optional subject for only three minorities and even then text books have still not been provided for this purpose. In this regard, we need not mention the political representation accorded at the national and local level to minorities in Macedonia.

It is pathetic that the representative of a country such as Bulgaria, which treats its minorities in such a negative fashion and in which recent governments held the official view that no minorities exist in Bulgaria, should speak so arrogantly and insultingly of a country like Macedonia. It would be much better if Dzambaski and the remaining Bulgarian MPs were to go to Macedonia and learn how minorities are respected and have their rights safeguarded, rather than making provocative and insulting statements about Macedonia, as has been their practice to date.

The difference between mister Dzambaski and the remaining Bulgarian MPs is not one of substance, however he is more sincere and open in what he says, while the others understand very well that by making such similar absurd statements they will compromise not only their inhumane cause and primitive ideology, but themselves as well in the eyes of their colleagues. This is precisely why those other MPs try to conceal their politics of negation under the guise of slogans deemed more acceptable in Europe. An example of that is the insistence on “joint celebrations” of important historical events with which they seek to impose Bulgaria’s national mythology on Macedonia. It is not by chance that Bulgaria does not want any other country to attend these events apart from Macedonia and Bulgaria and has never to date sought the holding of joint celebrations with any other neighbouring country, except Macedonia. It has not done so because its demand is inspired by intentions which are neither humane or European; namely the desire to present the history of Macedonia as Bulgarian, as part and parcel of the continuing Bulgarian anti-Macedonian campaign which began during the time of the Communist dictatorship and to deny the existence of a Macedonian nation, language, culture, history, minority, etc, regardless of the fact that it did in fact recognise them in the past. Dzambaski’s letter is a perfect illustration of this approach.

Moreover, the slogans employed by Bulgarian Euro MPs as part of their rhetoric in the past decade are equally fallacious and delusional. They speak of “good neighbourliness”, but take that to mean the obligation on the part of Macedonia to satisfy every Bulgarian desire and whim; they complain about an alleged anti-Bulgarian campaign by the Macedonian media, when what they demand in essence is for the Macedonian government to interfere with the freedom of media outlets and to prohibit them from highlighting the dire situation of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria or to publish articles and reports critical of Bulgaria ( this is precisely what constitutes an “anti-Bulgarian campaign“ for them). The same applies to the absurd matter of the “theft of history” (by which they mean the non-acceptance of Bulgarian national mythology regarding Macedonia), through which, in reality, they demand, under the pretext of an alleged defence of the historical truth, to forcibly curtail the right to freedom of thought and academic research in Macedonia for the benefit of their national dogmas. They seek a new treaty of good neighbourliness with Macedonia which includes the demand that Macedonia renounce its right to defend the Macedonians in Bulgaria and agree to a process of non-reciprocity to its own disadvantage.

By taking advantage of its position as a member of the EU, Bulgaria has forgotten about the support provided by Macedonia for its membership of the EU and has attempted to impose extraordinary and anti-democratic conditions on Macedonia: namely, that she exercise political interference in the area of freedom of the press and other media, freedom of speech and thought, interfere in free academic research, relinquish any opportunity and right to defend the rights of the Macedonian national minority in Bulgaria and to agree to relativise the existence of its own nation.

We would like to bring to your attention the fact that Bulgaria, a member of the EU, herself violates the rights of minorities. The Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is still denied and the registration of Macedonian organizations has been rendered impossible, despite numerous verdicts of the European Court for Human Rights. Moreover, self-determination as a Macedonian in Bulgaria is still treated as an act of national treason and Macedonians are still the objects of unpunished hate speech, sometimes at the highest official levels of government.

We appeal to you to consider and examine our predicament, to defend our rights as Macedonians in Bulgaria, as European citizens who are discriminated against and humiliated by European authorities, instead of heeding the arguments of ultranationalists and people such as Dzambaski whose views are not only highly retrograde, anachronistic and racist but a serious threat to the values which European institutions are founded on.

On behalf of the Macedonian national minority in Bulgaria,

OMO ”Ilinden” - PIRIN, member of the European Free Alliance Presidency: Angel Bezev, Georgi Hristov, Ivan SIngartijski, Aleksandar Spasov, Stojan Mechkarov, Krum Filatov, Stojko Stojkov

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OMO “Ilinden” - PIRIN is a political party supporting the rights of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. It has been banned since 2000, despite a 2005 European Court of Human Rights Judgement ruling that the decision was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. For more information please visit www.omoilindenpirin.org.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information:
www.mhrmi.org, www.twitter.com/mhrmi, www.facebook.com/mhrmi, info@mhrmi.org, +1 416-850-7125.

Established in 1984, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non-governmental organisation that informs and advocates before international institutions, governments and broader communities about combating racism and promoting human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world, are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit
www.macedonianhr.org.au, email info@macedonianhr.org.au or via +61 3 9329 8960.

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