The denial of the very existence of the Macedonian minority, as well as of Macedonian identity, language, culture and history continued in general to be official state policy. Bulgaria ignores all requests to recognise the minority and grant it its basic rights by taking advantage of existing restrictions which do not allow European institutions to intervene in matters relating to the recognition of minorities, the rights of minorities and the use of their languages, decisions about which are within the domain of the powers of individual member states. By taking advantage of the artificially created atmosphere of intolerance, the Bulgarian state successfully keeps representatives of the minority isolated from the political and social life of the country - both individually and collectively (by not registering Macedonian parties and organisations) . Given that the European Commission can only intervene in the case of discrimination, the Bulgarian state has put in place measures to ensure that the Commission Against Discrimination completely ignores all instances of discrimination against the Macedonian minority and deprives this body of formal proof that the Macedonian minority is the subject of discrimination.
The Republic of Bulgaria has in particular strived to make the raising of this issue within the European Union impossible and has even made the abandonment of the Macedonian minority by the Republic of Macedonia a condition of Macedonia’s membership of European institutions - it has demanded guarantees from Macedonia that it will not seek to defend this minority by threatening that that it will block its candidacy of such institutions if it does so.
The effects of such organised state policy are felt in all areas. There are no (and there have not been) any Macedonian representatives on the Commission on Minorities. When ethnic groups in Bulgaria are officially spoken and written about, Macedonians are not mentioned at all and Macedonian culture, language and history are not represented in any government publication or official site. Macedonians are not included in any programs concerning ethnic communities and do not receive any type of assistance from the state for the preservation and development of their culture and identity.
Not one of the rights stipulated in the Framework Convention on National Minorities has been granted to the Macedonians. In schools children do not only learn anything about the Macedonian minority and nation, but on the contrary are imparted knowledge in such a way that it omits any mention of the Macedonian nation and minority. The Macedonian literary language continues to not be learnt. On television and in the media, there is a continuous and varied presentation of the view that there is no Macedonian nation and that everything Macedonian is Bulgarian. The Macedonian point of view is not included in lectures and discussions about history. Macedonian consciousness itself (“Macedonianism“ as it is labelled in Bulgaria) is looked upon as an artificial anti-Bulgarian ideology. Macedonian consciousness in Bulgaria (and quite often the Macedonian nation as a whole) is considered to be a product of a Communist experiment or the result of hostile foreign propaganda. A climate of intolerance reigns in society against Macedonians and they are the object of hate speech, which is often given wide exposure through the media without being sanctioned by the institutions of the state and without encountering any condemnation by the wider society.
Not one Macedonian organisation and party is officially registered . Not one of the registered parties in Bulgaria defends the rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria. Despite the large number of recommendations by international bodies Bulgarian authorities persistently continue to refuse to enter into a dialogue with the Macedonian minority.
Representatives from across society with the exception of a small section of civil society treat Macedonians as non-existent and do not take them seriously.
This year as well neither the Commission Against Discrimination, nor any other organisation adopted an official stance regarding the situation of the Macedonians in Bulgaria, despite the fact that at the beginning of 2018 the number of verdicts against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights had risen to 14. In 28 years of democracy not one Bulgarian official institution has done so.
During 2018 the Bulgarian state did not undertake any measures to improve the situation of the Macedonian minority. On the contrary, it made efforts to prevent the recognition of a Macedonian minority.
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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: 1-416-850-7125, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, mhrmi.org/OurNameIsMacedonia.