Sofia Condemns Attack on Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia

Diplomacy | May 4, 2012, Friday // 18:19|  views

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov has reacted strongly to the assault on the Bulgarian Ambassador in Skopje by Macedonian nationalists. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov has issued a strong statement condemning the attack by Macedonian nationalists on the Bulgarian Ambassador in Skopje Ivan Petkov and others trying to honor the memory of Bulgarian revolutionary hero Gotse Delchev.

Nationalist "hooligans" have staged an organized attack against a delegation led by the Bulgarian Ambassador in Macedonia Ivan Petkov, which was trying to lay flowers at the grave of Bulgarian revolutionary hero Gotse Delchev (1872-1903).

The newly-appointed Bulgarian Ambassador Ivan Petkov together with local Macedonian Bulgarians attempted to lay wreaths at the grave of Gotse Delchev in the St. Spas Church in Skopje, on day of Delchev's death, May 4, when he and those accompanying him were attacked by Macedonian nationalists, the Focus news agency reported citing witnesses. According to Macedonian Bulgarians from the delegation, the attackers were from a nationalist wing of the ruling Macedonian party VMRO-DPMNE.

"What happened today in Skopje during the ceremony in honor of the memory of Gotse Delchev is unacceptable. An attempt to prevent the laying of wreaths by the Ambassador of Bulgaria in Skopje is in conflict with the European principles and norms of human respect for the memory of individuals who have contributed to freedom and dignity," Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov declared in a special statement.

"That is why, earlier today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a sharp protest regarding the incident was conveyed to the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia, Blagoj Handjiski," he revealed.

"I hope that this offensive incident remains an isolated case. We expect information from the Macedonian side of the measures that it intends to take to prevent future similar acts of aggression and intolerance against Bulgaria. Ensuring the smooth celebration and commemoration of historical dates and events is a sign of acceptance of European values and the desire to develop good neighborly relations in the region - the main condition for the accession of countries to the European Union," Mladenov concluded.

The Bulgarians attempting to honor revolutionary hero Gotse Delchev were attacked with force, and thus forced to flee, failing to lay flowers at the hero's grave.

The authorities in Macedonia's capital Skopje have prevented Bulgarian diplomats and Macedonians with Bulgarian self-consciousness from honoring the grave of Gotse Delchev at several instances in the past on both Delchev's birthday – February 4, and the day of his death – May 4.

Back on January 13, 2007, Bulgarian citizens were attacked and beaten by Macedonian nationalists upon laying flowers at the memorial of Bulgarian female hero Mara Buneva, who resisted the Serbian / Yugoslavian occupation of the region of Vardar Macedonia in the 1920s.

Common history is a major issue in the relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia since the latter was considered an inalienable part of the Bulgarian nation until communist Yugoslavia invented a Macedonian nation in 1943-44, and subsequently undertook a meticulous campaign for the creation of a distinct Macedonian national identity that was supposed to be different from the Bulgarian one.

The years after Yugoslavia's collapse and Macedonia's independence in 1991 have seen both an intensification of Macedonian nationalism based on the identity invented in the Yugoslavian period, and an erosion of the Macedonian national idea, with a few dozens of thousands of Slavic Macedonians claiming Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds of their Bulgarian ethnicity.

Gotse Delchev (1872-1903) was a key figure in the liberation movement of the Bulgarians from the historic and geographic regions of Macedonia and Thrace that remained in the Ottoman Empire after Bulgaria's National Liberation in 1878, which however included only some of the Bulgarian populated territories in the regions of Moesia and Thrace.

Delchev was one of the leaders of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMARO ; VMORO in Bulgarian), which was originally founded in 1893 under the name "Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees".

While in the years before the Ilinder-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903 – the largest uprising of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace against the rule of the Ottoman Turkish Empire – VMORO's goal was to unite the respective regions with the liberated Bulgaria, after the uprising was crushed, the organization split into several factions with different agendas. Keeping in mind the multiethnic population of the regions of Macedonia and Thrace at the time, Gotse Delchev is known to have voiced the vision of creating an autonomous entity out of the European remaining European provinces of the Ottoman Empire, a vision that was not rejected by the Bulgarian governments in Sofia at the time even though they never doubted the Bulgarian identity of the Slavic Macedonians.

Delchev's remains were transferred to the authorities of the communist Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in the late 1940s by the authorities of communist Bulgaria, which, following the Comintern policies imposed by the Soviet Union, briefly accepted the invention of a distinct Macedonian identity.

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Tags: Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia, Ivan Petkov, macedonia, FYROM, Skopje, Gotse Delchev, VMRO, VMORO, IMARO, Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising, St. Spas Church in Skopje, hooligans, nationalists, Macedonians, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkey, Ottoman Turkish Empire, Communist Bulgaria, communist Yugoslavia, former Yugoslavia, former yugoslav republic of macedonia, 1903, 1878, Thrace, Moesia, Nikolay Mladenov, Foreign Minister


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