By OMO Ilinden PIRIN, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
A statement denying the existence of minorities in Bulgaria was made last week to the Macedonian media by an MP of the European Parliament, Andrej Kovachev – a member of the ruling party in Bulgaria (GERB). Similar views have also been recently expressed by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mladenov. Such an attitude raises the question of how sincere Bulgaria was in ratifying the Framework Convention for National Minorities and aids in explaining its practical non-application in Bulgaria.
The claim that there are no minorities in Bulgaria can be considered to be an expression of fascism, a yearning for a “pure nation”, something which the European Union should condemn as scandalous and unacceptable. Moreover the specific denial by Mr. Kovachev of the existence of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria is not only a flagrant lie but also a severe act of discrimination.
We, of course, support the right of every individual to freely determine her/his identity and we condemn any sort of discrimination on that basis wherever it may occur. This also applies to Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia. However, the artificial conversion by Mr. Kovachev, of cases to do with criminal conduct in Macedonia, into cases of “ethnic discrimination” cannot be described as anything other than a conscious and deliberate policy of provocation – a childish attempt to vilify Macedonians and to poison relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia. It also serves as a hindrance to European stability and cooperation in general.
Before it places conditions on others, Bulgaria itself would do well to satisfy those same conditions. The recognition of and according of rights to minorities, including the Macedonian minority, as well as making serious efforts to end hate speech, are criteria which Bulgaria has still not satisfied.
The opinions expressed are the authors’ own