Bulgaria Nationalists Stir Greek Protest with Patriotic Billboards

Society | February 26, 2010, Friday // 19:57|  views

VMRO (presented as an acronym of "Faith, Moral, Patriotism, Responsibility") and Slavcho Atanasov say Happy March 3, read the billboards in Plovdiv which also feature a map of Bulgaria under the Treaty of San Stefano from March 3, 1878. Photo by DarikNews

Patriotic billboards placed in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv have led to protest on part of the Greek Consul there.

Bulgaria’s nationalist party VMRO, to which the Plovdiv Mayor Slacho Atanasov belongs, has put billboards around the city congratulating its residents for Bulgaria’s upcoming national holiday – March 3, the day of Bulgaria’s National Liberation from the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

However, Greece’s Consul in Plovdiv, Nikolaos Piperigos, has expressed his indignation over the historic map of Bulgaria featured on the billboards, the Plovdiv District Governor, Ivan Totev has announced, as quoted by Darik Radio.

The Greek Consul has demanded an urgent meeting with the Plovdiv Mayor, Slavcho Atanasov, over the billboards which feature a map of Bulgaria at the time of its liberation as stipulated by the San Stefano Treaty signed between the Russian Empire and Ottoman Turkey on March 3, 1878.

The map shows the so called “San Stefano Bulgaria” which includes territories from the geographic regions of Macedonia and Thrace that are now outside of Bulgaria, and much of them are located in most of today’s Northern Greece.

The San Stefano Treaty itself was revised by the Great Powers only three months later – during the Berlin Congress of July 1878; however, the restoration of “San Stefano Bulgaria” became the supreme aim of Bulgarian politicians and people in the period before World War II. Subsequently, Bulgaria has formally renounced any territorial claims for its neighbors.

The Plovdiv Mayor, Slavcho Atanasov, whose name is also on the billboards (the message reads “Happy National Holiday from the VMRO and Slavcho Atanasov”) has refused to meet with the Greek Consul as he had planned a trip to Sofia, District Governor Totev announced.

“There is nothing patriotic in trying to achieve cheap political benefits at the expense of our wonderful relations with our southern neighbor,” Totev declared criticizing the Mayor of Plovdiv and his party.

In the meantime, the VMRO party issued a declaration saying that March 3 was the National Holiday of the Republic of Bulgaria, and the historic map shown on the problematic billboards was proclaimed by an international treaty.

The VMRO party also said that while the territories of Macedonia and Thrace where part of the territory of Greece at present, they were also part of Bulgaria’s historical and cultural heritage, and vowed to place similar billboards every single year.

Today’s VMRO party considers itself of a descendant of the Internal Macedonia-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) founded in 1893 to fight for the liberation of the regions of Macedonia and Thrace from the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

It is still unclear if any diplomatic protests on part of Greece might lead to the removal of the VMRO billboards. The Plovdiv Mayor Atanasov from the VMRO was elected with the support of Bulgaria's current ruling party GERB of PM Borisov.

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Tags: VMRO, greece, Plovdiv, March 3, 1878, Slavcho Atanasov, Plovdiv Mayor, Ivan Totev, District Governor, Greek Consul, Nikolaos Piperigos


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