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Radio France International: Report on Macedonians in Bulgaria

November 30, 2004


Another Europe

(Reporter - Maria Bezanovska)
Translated from French by Elena Veljkovic

Reporter: Good day everyone.

Observance of minorities’ rights is one of the essential conditions for becoming a member of the European Union. We shall dedicate two programs to this problem in Bulgaria.

(Music)

Bulgaria has eight million and two hundred thousand (8,400,000) inhabitants, most of which are Bulgarians, a Slavic nation that came to this region in the seventh century.

Apart from the Bulgarians, there are also Turks who came here during the Ottoman Empire. There are 800 thousand of them. Being exiled during the communist regime, which had the intention of homogenizing the society, a large number of them migrated to Turkey.

The Romany is the second largest national minority. Their number is estimated to around 400 thousand.

Among the Bulgarian citizens there is a group of the so-called “Pomaci”, who had been forced into changing their religion into Moslem by the ottoman Turks. They had saved their own language as well as certain Christian customs, but their women were vailed.

Then, there are Russians, Armenians, Greeks, Gagauzes from Turkish origin that had adopted the Christian religion. All these data are based on the census of the population conducted in the year 2001.

Here is what Antonina Zeljaskova, president of the Minorities Research Center in Bulgaria, says regarding this question.

Antonina Zeljaskova: According to the last census, there are around twenty national minorities, some of which are represented only by two hundred, three hundred or four hundred people.

The government even financed a program for a more detailed study of those minorities in order to comprehend their way of life, their culture and their diffusion in Bulgaria more precisely. All national minorities are recognized.

Question: I recall that about ten years ago there was a serious problem with the Turkish minority. At that time, their surnames were changed into Bulgarian (“Bulgarianized”). There was also a large wave of immigration of this minority to Turkey. But then, things changed greatly. I can see that this minority participates in the life in Bulgaria completely. I think that their party is even part of the government coalition.

Antonina Zeljaskova: Yes. After the fall of the communist regime, the situation has constantly and gradually improved. Today our anthropological and sociological researches show that throughout this whole period the situation has constantly been improving, so we can say that the situation has been completely normalized, i.e. there are no tensions regarding the minorities’ rights issue.

Generally speaking, Bulgaria can proudly declare that it has reached a stage where there are very sincere relations among the ethnical communities.

This relaxation of the relations, this balance that now exists between the minorities and the majority nation in Bulgaria, was not progressing very easily and it was realized, above all, thanks to the establishment of the civil community. We are very proud of that.

Question: Special efforts were made regarding the Romany minority. It was a difficult assignment that was supported by the international community.

Antonina Zeljaskova: Until a year ago, there was a certain tension when it came to the Romany minority. In fact, all the other ethnical groups – the Bulgarians, the Turks, and the Pomaks – had an extremely negative attitude towards the Romany. It took a lot of effort to change the situation. We can see the first results now. For instance, people in Bulgaria have eventually come to realize that the problems of the Romany not only concern them, but the entire society as well.

In the past, and even recently, there was certain repugnance in the public opinion regarding anything that involved supporting or helping the Romany. More specifically, in the field of health, education – especially high education, and the other social activities. People have now realized that if the Roma do not get the mentioned support, they go out in the streets and thus problems are caused. It is now obvious that those problems concern us all, so great efforts are made to help this minority. It (the minority) has also been discriminated when it comes to employment, because with their qualifications it is difficult to be involved in programs which aim towards the improvement of the situation and the living conditions. Question: By this, the image of Bulgaria abroad would certainly improve(?)

Antonina Zeljaskova: Everybody who is part of the organizaations dealing with this issue, i.e. all of us are very satisfied by the fact that, regarding the change of opinions, there is a strongly accentuated positive attitude, even a certain pressure on the Bulgarian Government that the problem of the minorities should be dealt with widely. In fact, no Government was prepared to benevolently undertake measures in that direction up till now.

Earlier we had the impression that we were doing a lot of the work in vain, that we neither had understanding by the Government nor got any help by the state organs. It is a completely different situation now. The authorities themselves initiate preparation and realization of the programs. They come to us to consult us in what ways to increase their efforts regarding the issue of the minorities.

Reporter: Listening to Antonina Zeljaskova, one might think that Bulgaria is an oasis of multiethnical peaceful coexistence in the Balkans.

And indeed, there is no war. The Bulgarian Turks didn’t take “Kalashnikov” guns in their hands in order to fight for their rights. Undoubtedly, thanks to the awareness of their leader Dogan, whose party now participates in the government.

The Romany also have the chance of a gradual improvement of their situation, thanks to the intervention of the International Community. This especially applies to the financial resources that the Community invests for the solution of their problem, which becomes more and more European.

However, the situation is not so good.

Here is what Krasimir Kenev, the President of the Helsinki Committee in Bulgaria, says.

Krasimir Kenev: In my opinion, the situation of the national minorities in Bulgaria is not very good. I would only point out two serious problems.

First of all, there is the problem with the Romany, who are de facto excluded from the Bulgarian society because the discrimination towards them is present in all areas.

The second serious problem is the one with the Macedonians who have not been recognized by the Bulgarian Government. Not a single public institution recognizes their existence.

Nevertheless, the Macedonian minority exists and it is much bigger than what the figures of the official statistics reveal. That minority was also pressured during the census. Only five thousand of them had the courage to declare themselves as Macedonians in the last census.

Reporter: Here is the opinion of Ivan Kalcev, a professor at the University of Sofia.

Ivan Kalcev: We have a problem in Bulgaria with individuals and groups who are nationalists, that is patriots in the negative sense of the word. There are newspapers in Bulgaria which publish articles against the Turks, as well as against all the others who do not have the orthodox Christian religion. For instance, in those newspapers it is very often written that the Bulgarian citizens who are not orthodox by religion can not be accounted for as Bulgarians.

They refer to Rakovski, Marin Drinov or some other leading originators of our renaissance who said that Bulgarian is one who is orthodox.

Question: Yes, but that was at the end of the nineteenth century (!?)

Ivan Kalcev: Yes, but some people think the same even today.

I was very surprised when, five or six years ago, I talked to one of my colleagues, a science professor at the University of Sofia, and I told him that I was catholic; he said: “But, my dear colleague, you are not Bulgarian then!”

Hence, he thinks that the catholics are some sort of a sect, enemies of the orthodox, i.e. that only the orthodox are the true Christians.

When speaking of minorities in Bulgaria, only the Turks, the Romany, perhaps the Serbs and some others are considered as such, while the Macedonians are never even mentioned. Never.

Even in the sociological studies and all the other research, such as the ones conducted in the Institute that Mrs Zeljaskova runs, the Macedonians are never mentioned.

Reporter: In fact, Antonina Zaljaskova avoids talking about it, regarding it as a fallacy problem. In her opinion, the Macedonian minority does not exist because, in the last census, only five thousand people declared themselves as Macedonians. Therefore, she says, she does not understand why the associations, such as the Helsinki Committee or the Human Rights, declare the opposite.

(Music)

Reporter: During my stay in Bulgaria, I met several people who declared their nationality as Macedonian.

Georgi Radulov is a professor at the Geological Faculty in Sofia.

Georgi Radulov: I can say that there are a lot of people here in Bulgaria who are Macedonian by origin. But in the last census there was no graph “Macedonian” in the form. Those five thousand Macedonians who declared as such, had to write down the option “Macedonian” themselves in order to declare their true nationality.

Reporter: Here is the testimony of Konstantin Georgiev, a former philosophy professor at the University of Sofia.

Konstantin Georgiev: This census speaks for itself. How can it be possible that, according to the official statistic data, in 1958 there were 180 thousand Macedonians and two years later - there was not a single one?! Any rational human would conclude that the censuses were not objective.

As far as the last census from 2001 is concerned, the form did not have the graph “Macedonian”. Hence, everyone who had the courage to declare as such had to add the graph at the end of the list of nationalities in his own handwriting. It very often happened that the registrars filled in the forms themselves according to their own will.

In my opinion, any way you see it, that census was not objective.

Reporter: Here is the opinion of Ivan Dragas, linguist.

Ivan Dragas: As far as the Macedonians are concerned, the data from the census in 2001 are incorrect, just as they were incorrect in the past. It is true that the form didn’t have the graph “Macedonian”, and the list contained all the other minorities like the Turks, the Romas, the Vlachs, the Gaguzes, the Armenian, the Jewish. The only ones missing were the Macedonians. Those five thousand people who had the courage to declare as Macedonians were the ones who didn’t succumb to all the pressure.

In my opinion, this problem in Bulgaria will not be solved any time soon.

Reporter: Konstantin Georgiev affirms that those who declared as Macedonians had to face negative consequences, both personally and especially professionally.

Konstantin Georgiev: Zivkov’s communist regime in Bulgaria was acutely nationalistic. Everyone who opposed the official politics had serious problems because the methods were extremely brutal.

Today it is different. The one who declares himself as Macedonian will still face certain problems, but in a more subtle way. For instance, if such an individual should want to have a university or a political career – he would have very little chance of achieving that.

Reporter: The case of Konstantin Georgiev is very illustrative. During the communist regime, he lost his position as a philosophy professor at the University of Sofia because he had been making a study about the Macedonian minority. After the change of the regime, when he applied to continue working on the study, he was told that he was not allowed to do so because he had been teaching Marxism in the communist period.

By the way, let us mention that Konstantin Georgiev has specialized in “ Ethics in Philosophy” and that he is Macedonian by origin.

Such is the case with Ivan Dragas. Even though he has a Master’s Degree in Bulgarian literature and linguistics, it is difficult for him to find employment because he refuses to declare as Bulgarian.

Ivan Dragas: We can achieve anything we want in the Bulgarian society but only on one condition – never to declare as Macedonians. That is the only problem. One can not declare as Macedonian, but only as Bulgarian.

Question: Isn’t there a single ethnic Macedonian who has managed to make a career in the politics or in the public administration?

Georgi Radulov: There are individuals with Macedonian origin who have even made a political career in Bulgaria but they have declared as Bulgarians.

It has always been like that. For instance, even during the Ottoman Empire – the one who would declare as a Turk, although he/she wasn’t one, could even become a sultan, or solely by declaring that a Christian was a Moslem. There were many cases like this in different provinces in Turkey then. The same thing happened in Bulgaria. If you are Macedonian and you declare to be Bulgarian, you can even have certain advantages. That’s right.

(Music)

Reporter: Bulgaria is a candidate for membership in the European Union in 2007.

I asked my three interlocutors if they expected any improvement of their situation then.

Konstantin Georgiev: I think that when Bulgaria becomes a member of the European Union, it will have to comply with the norms of the Union regarding the minorities residing in it, especially the Macedonian minority.

Question: What is your opinion, Ivan?

Ivan Kalcev: There is only one problem, that is, this problem will have to be solved between us , the Macedonians and the Bulgarians. The Bulgarians will have to understand once and for all that our national identity is very important for us. We will never be an impediment for the integration of the Bulgarians in the European Union. On the contrary, we want to move forward to the European Union along with them.

Question: It seems that Georgi Radulov is pessimistic.

Georgi Radulov: I have been observing the progress of the situation in Greece. It is a member of the European Union but, when it comes to the Macedonian minority, almost everything has stayed the same as before.

I even believe that things could get worse when Bulgaria becomes a member of the European Union. I want to say that the Bulgarian authorities are deliberately creating confusion. They are doing everything to confuse people in Western Europe so that they would not understand the essence of our situation.

Reporter: Where does this Bulgarian attitude towards the Macedonian minority originate from when there is no possibility of separatism?

For the purpose of understanding this question better which, according to me, seems important not only for the future of Bulgaria and the Balkans but also for the future of the European Union, I suggest that we meet again next week, accompanied by experts from the region.

(Music)

Part Two

April 10, 2004

MINORITIES’ RIGHTS
Bulgaria’s hidden face

Reporter: Good day everyone.

Bulgaria has put a lot of effort to resolving the problem of observing the rights of the minorities. This country has about twenty of them.

The situation of the Turks and the Romany, minorities biggest in number, is improving.

Especially the situation of the Turks, who even participate in the government now.

The other minorities, such as the Vlachs, the Jewish, the Pomaks and the Gagauzes, have been treated more tolerantly. The only minority whose rights have not been observed is the Macedonian. This is so only because Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of the Macedonian nation. According to Bulgaria, the Macedonians are Bulgarians. This attitude is not recent. I suggest a brief historical retrospection.

Upon arriving on the Balkans, around the seventh century BC, the Macedonian people found themselves on one of the most delicate territories in the region. Having settled in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, the Macedonians happened to set down on the most important crossroad since oldest times. Therefore, it is not strange that Macedonia has become an apple of discord in the Balkans, causing conflicts in the neighboring areas.

For centuries, it has been a victim of conspirators dreaming of Great Albania, Great Serbia, Great Greece and Great Bulgaria. There is no doubt that the Bulgarian State was the most persistent one in its conquering desires. It is true that part of the Macedonian territory had been annexed by the Bulgarian Monarchy, but only for several decades, and that happened more than seven centuries ago.

This was the historical reality until the moment of creating the Ottoman Empire. As it is known, this Empire gradually imposed its domination on the whole region until the nineteenth century when the Greeks, the Serbs and the Bulgarians fought their way to independence.

Only the Macedonians stayed within the territory of the Ottoman Empire until 1912.

The obsession for Great Bulgaria is based on the famous San Stefano Agreement from 1887 by which the Russians recompensed the Bulgarians for the support during the war by annexing the territory of Macedonia to Bulgaria.

However, several months later the Agreement was annulled at the Berlin Congress and Macedonia was returned to the rule of the Ottomans.

The Bulgarians never submitted to this international decision.

Convinced that they were rightfully entitled to Macedonia, and only partly satisfied with its dividing after the First Balkan War when the Ottomans were banished from the Balkans, the Bulgarians declare war to their neighbors, the Greeks and the Serbs, in 1913.

Moreover, they fought on the side of the Austrians and the Germans during the First and the Second Balkan War because they were both promising them Macedonia.

The Bulgarians lost both wars and thus lost their dream of appropriating Macedonia.

During the communist period, Bulgaria, then ally of Moscow, had practically no relations with Macedonia which, since 1945, became one of the six Yugoslav federal republics.

It is known what happened afterwards. The fall of communism in 1989 could also be felt in Bulgaria.

After the fall of Yugoslavia, an independent Macedonian country was established. Bulgaria was the first country that recognized the independence of Macedonia, but still continues to consider that there is neither a Macedonian nation nor a Macedonian language. According to the Bulgarian State, which presents itself as democratic, the Macedonians are Bulgarians and the Macedonian language – is only one of the Bulgarian dialects.

As far as the Macedonian minority residing in Bulgaria is concerned, it can not even be thought about, let alone mentioned.

Reporter: When I was visiting Bulgaria recently to make a series of reports about its preparations for membership in the European Union, I thought that the dream of Great Bulgaria had already been forgotten about.

You can’t imagine my astonishment when I realized that the idea was still existing deep down in the heart of every average Bulgarian!

I can’t say how many times I heard the same phrase that almost literally goes like this: “Those are the poor Bulgarians that were forced by the communists to declare as Macedonians!”

The same phrase was even used by Antonina Zaljaskova, manager of the Minority Reasearch Center, who added that many of those “poor” Bulgarians were mistreated by the communists in the 1950s and forced into declaring as Macedonians.

Antonina Zeljaskova: We know that there was this political attitude imposed by the Comintern, according to which part of Bulgaria had been populated by Macedonians so the inhabitants from that region were forced to declare as Macedonians. For instance, my husband’s father who comes from that region used to tell me how, when he was in the army, he was threatened to be arrested for declaring as Bulgarian. Therefore, being pressured by the authorities, he had to declare as Macedonian. What I would like to emphasize to my great pleasure is that in Bulgaria there is a great relaxation and a completely clear attitude when it comes to Macedonia and the Macedonians, and that there is no hostility and no nationalistic ambitions of the Bulgarians regarding our neighbor Macedonia. We have very normal relations with this country.

(Music)

Reporter: In the bookshop of the Bulgarian Academy of Science in Sofia I found a whole division with works about Macedonia, the authors of which were contemporary Bulgarian historians. I was very surprised when realized to what extent this famous Macedonian question, which I believed had long been put aside, still preoccupied the Bulgarian historians. I was under the impression that I was still in the time of the Balkan wars when Serbia and Bulgaria were trying to divide Macedonia into pieces.

Among tens of works I didn’t see one which was written by a Macedonian historian.

Here is how Ivan Kalcev, philosopher and inquirer of the Balkan history, explains this phenomenon.

Ivan Kalcev: Almost all Bulgarian historians are concerned patriots. Those are people who do not have the necessary philosophical culture, and neither do they have a universal vision. They are of the opinion that there are no minorities in Bulgaria. Even when they speak of the Macedonian minority that is solely in the context of fierce negation.

For me, this is an inexplicable phenomenon. What is more important, this is not only the personal opinion of single-minded historians. This is the official attitude of the Bulgarian Government.

I even believe that the recognition of Macedonia as an independent country on the part of Bulgaria was not done because of sincere conviction or intention. The recognition was aimed at making the Macedonians be thankful so that they would feel obliged to compensate by saying that they were closely related to the Bulgarians, that perhaps they were Bulgarians, etc. How is it possible to be accepted in the European Union with an attitude like this?

Reporter: Stefan Vlahov is a professor at the University of Sofia and president of the Independent Association of Bulgarian Writers. When I told him about how astonished I was when I saw so many works written by Bulgarian historians who devoted their work to Macedonia, none of which was written by a Macedonian writer, he was not surprised at all.

Stefan Vlahov: That is paradoxical only at first glance. You see, when in 1991 the Republic of Macedonia proclaimed its independence, few of us were hoping that there would be exchange of books, scientific literature, newspapers and magazines between Bulgaria and Macedonia, all with the purpose of getting acquainted with each other better. All Bulgarian scientists were against it. On the other hand, I saw many books from Bulgarian authors in Macedonia.

It is obvious that the Macedonians are not afraid of opening the borders. The problem is on the Bulgarian side.

(Music)

Reporter: I noticed a publication with the title “Macedonian Review” in the same bookshop. At first I thought it was a Macedonian publication because I read that the publisher was the Macedonian Institute of Science. You can’t imagine how surprised I was when I saw that the main office of that Institute was in Sofia, Bulgaria! How is it possible for a Macedonian institute to be located in Sofia?!

But, even in this case, professor Vlahov was not surprised again.

Stefan Vlahov: There is nothing surprising about it if you are familiar with Bulgarian nationalism well. There is nothing new here. You see, when the Macedonians founded their revolutionary organization in 1895 in order to free themselves from the Ottoman bondage, Bulgaria created a similar organization with the same name – VMRO, with the purpose of presenting the Macedonians as Bulgarians.

The same thing happened again about ten years ago when Macedonia proclaimed its independence. The Macedonians founded the political party VMRO then in the honor of their revolutionary past. The Bulgarian nationalists immediately established a party by the same name. Their only purpose is to ruin, to poison the ambience between the two neighboring nations. If it weren’t sad, it would be really funny. How can the existence of a nation be negated, a nation that proclaimed its independence on September 8, 1991?! It’s really funny!

(Music)

Question: I wonder how, with such nationalistic ideas spread all over the country, the Bulgarians can imagine they are ready to join the European Union?!

Stefan Vlahov: That is a problem indeed. You see, if the Bulgarian authorities are dealing with the rights of the Romany nowadays, it is because there is a great deal of pressure by the European Union.

The Turkish minority is so numerous that it can defend its rights by itself. It is even represented by its members in the Parliament and their political party is part of the government coalition.

To be more specific, the Bulgarians recognize the rights of the minorities only when being pressured. They do not show maturity. I’m sure that one day they will be made to recognize the rights of the Macedonian minority residing in Bulgaria as well.

However, it is difficult to believe that pressure had to be used so that the rights of the Turks be recognized, and again pressure for the rights of the Romany minority…….always pressure!

All that causes an air of displeasure in the relations between the Bulgarians on one hand, and the Turks, the Romany and the Macedonians, on the other hand. I don’t think that the Bulgarians will be part of the European home yet.

(Music)

Reporter: Does the dream of Great Bulgaria still exist?

Antonina Zaljaskova is categorical.

Antonina Zeljaskova: No, there’s no such thing in Bulgaria any more. I think that the Bulgarians have grown maturer in the last ten-fifteen years. Generally speaking, it is completely impossible for Bulgarians to generate such nationalistic illusions now.

The Bulgarians have lost 200 to 300 thousand people in the battlefields in the name of that unattainable dream called the “San Stefano Bulgaria”.

The Bulgarians have certainly learned the lesson by seeing in what way, from a position of nationalism, former Yugoslavia was brought to a complete disintegration. The Bulgarians have realized that excessive pretension towards foreign territories may bring to national tragedy, as it was the case with the Serbs.

Reporter: Professor Kalcev does not feel the same.

Ivan Kalcev: Officially, people in Bulgaria are against that dream of Great Bulgaria. However, the dream still exists. I think that even nowadays, the educational process in the primary schools still holds on to that line of ideals about Great Bulgaria.

For instance, in the schools in Bulgaria students are often taught that Bulgaria neighbors itself. This is done for the purpose of letting it be known that significant Bulgarian minority lives in all the Balkan states, so perhaps Bulgaria has a reason for territorial pretension towards all neighboring countries.

Question: We all know what happened to Serbia when Mr Milosevic wanted to unite all Serbs in one country; Mr Tudzman had the same dream for Croatia; the Albanians do not even hide their pretension today. If the Bulgarians take that road also, where shall we be?

Ivan Kalcev: I think it is very dangerous if Bulgaria stays in that position of tutorship in relation to Macedonia. I’m convinced that it is a very suspenseful position.

Reporter: According to Stefan Vlahov, it is time to stop with the manipulations about the Bulgarian history.

Stefan Vlahov: Unfortunately, that dream hasn’t ceased to exist. In order to explain this, I can enumerate both subjective and objective reasons, which often arouse them. Let’s take the textbooks, for instance. There is an initiative to write textbooks that will be valid for all Balkan states. But here in the Ministry of Education, those textbooks written by Bulgarian, Turkish, Macedonian and Greek historians are kept locked and no one can see what is written in them.

Hence, manipulations here never come to an end. In relation to this, I don’t see any difference from the communist period, because all nationalistic cliches of lies still exist. I can say this as an expert in Balkan history.

On the other hand, it is a proof of complete absence of tolerance towards our different way of thinking. This attitude should be revised and corrected in order to give a more realistic image of the Bulgarian history.

It is unacceptable to continue the manipulation with the science, on the basis of the cliches from the period of romanticism. We are living in the twenty-first century and we still reflect as if in the nineteenth.

Reporter: All in all, the reasons for such attitude of the Bulgarians toward the Macedonians are becoming more and more obvious, even though the Bulgarians use hypocritical language when communicating with the International Community.

Here is what Krasimir Kenev, president of the Helsinki Committee in Bulgaria says.

Krasimir Kenev: The reasons are numerous. The first one is that according to the conviction of the Bulgarians, Macedonians are Bulgarians, and not only those who live in Bulgaria but also the ones in the Republic of Macedonia.

The second reason is the very wide propaganda against the Macedonian national identity, history and culture. This propaganda is extremely influential, and it is especially conveyed through historians and journalists. This tendency is present in almost the whole Bulgarian society. Even if government officials had the desire to suppress it, they would never do so because it would mean losing votes on the elections.

Question: What are your potentials to fight against this type of propaganda as an international organization for human rights?

Krasimir Kenev: We defend the right of the Macedonians to have their national identity recognized every time we have the opportunity. We do that with different Bulgarian and international institutions. For instance, we filed an appeal against the Bulgarian state to the Human Rights Court in Strassbourg because it refused to register the organization of the Macedonian minority – OMO Ilinden.

The Macedonians are the only minority in Bulgaria that doesn’t have the right to establish their own association or to initiate publishing newspapers. There is one newspaper that is published in Blagoevgrad, both in Macedonian and in Bulgarian language at the same time. The authorities tolerate this. However, this still doesn’t mean allowing the Macedonians to have schools in their language.

On the other hand, the Turks, the Armenians and the Jewish have their schools.

Reporter: We will bring this program to its end by talking to a young linguist from Macedonian origin. That is Ivan Dragas.

Ivan Dragash: I’m a young person and I don’t mind living in Bulgaria. What I want is not to be hindered in being what I am. I don’t want anyone to tell me who I am, what I am and what I live for.

I do not ask for anything else from Bulgaria, except to be a citizen equal to other citizens in it.

Question: Isn’t there any way out, can’t you appeal somewhere, don’t you have the right to do that in this country?

Ivan Dragash: What rights are we talking about? We have all the rights except the right to be Macedonians. That is the problem.

(Music)

Reporter: The Commission of the European Parliament dealing with the fight against racism and intolerance has addressed a note to Bulgaria to undertake measures for observing the rights of the Macedonians. This Commission, I quote “ is concerned about the discrimination and the intolerance on the part of the government and the majority population against those who openly declare as Macedonians”. It requested from Sofia to establish a dialogue with representatives of the Macedonian minority, to find a solution for the tenseness. The Commission in Strassbourg recommended Sofia to educate people who would be engaged in the domain of observing human rights; to become one of the signatories of the European Convention for respecting the languages of the minorities and to allow them to establish their own associations.

(Music)

     
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