The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) denounces the recent statements made by the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov, where he suggests a future Bulgarian veto of Macedonian EU membership due to a Oscar-nominated Macedonian film, which criticizes Bulgaria’s historical collaboration with the Nazis.
The Third Half is a drama set in Macedonia during the WWII period of Bulgarian occupation when Sofia’s fascist puppet regime enabled and assisted Hitler’s plans to destroy the Macedonian Jewish community. Minister Mladenov described the film as infringing on “good neighborly relations” and suggested it would jeopardize Macedonia’s bid for EU membership.
The Third Half is a film based on true life-stories, including that of a German-Jewish coach who led FC Macedonia to the championship of the interwar soccer league. It is not based on the distorted interpretation of history that is common in Bulgarian academia, and UMD calls upon Bulgarian institutions to respect the universal freedom of artistic expression. In addition, UMD believes that Bulgarian officials should acknowledge their country’s historical collaboration with Nazi Germany more truthfully.
“Today, the Bulgarians claim they saved most of their Jewish population from the concentration camps. However, they fail to mention that, after Bulgaria joined the Axis in March 1943, 98% of the Jewish population in then Bulgarian-occupied Macedonia was exterminated, with most being sent to the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland,” said UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov.
“Bulgaria owes a sincere apology to what remains of the Macedonian Jewish community for their unspeakable fate in WWII. The Bulgarian state must never deny its involvement in the Holocaust, and Brussels should reaffirm that freedom of expression is a European value,” said UMD Board Member Trajko Papuckoski.