Tensions between the Eastern European republics of Bulgaria and Macedonia have been running high lately.
Bulgaria was the first country in the world to officially recognize the independence of Macedonia in 1991 - even if that meant giving up part of its own historic and territorial integrity.
But now Macedonian authorities claim the majority of Bulgaria’s population are “Macedonians” who live under what they call “a brutal oppression”. They are reportedly persecuting ethnic Bulgarians on their own soil, destroying military graveyards, claiming Bulgaria’s kings, poets, revolutionaries were “Macedonians”.
Macedonia is releasing a state-sponsored international film, describing Bulgarians as “fascists”. It is also about to exhibit “Medieval scripts” in Brussels - the capital of EU. European Parliament was quick to slam this as “manipulation” and “provocation”, as the very state of Macedonia was established in the 20th century.
So, an international committee had sent a letter to UNESCO - the United Nations’ cultural heritage watchdog - protesting against the appropriation of Bulgarian language, history and culture by the republic of Macedonia. Macedonian authorities, on their part, reiterated they have ancient roots and are now committed to the democratic standards of EU and NATO candidacy.
But it’s in NATO’s interest to maintain those issues “open”, as its influence on the Balkans is weakening - the chief of the History Institute of Bulgaria’s Academy of Sciences stresses. Markov calls it a “Big Brother” - first the Soviet Union, now the US - that wants the “fragmentation” of this region, as it is located at geo-strategic crossroad of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.