Bulgaria continues to frustrate Macedonia’s EU accession

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is compelled to again condemn Bulgaria’s continued attempts to veto Macedonia’s European Union (EU) accession, in return for concessions on its national identity, history, and language.

Bulgaria recently blocked Macedonia’s signing of a border management agreement. Then Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov threatened to dismantle World War II monuments in Macedonia that are in memory of victims of the “Bulgarian fascist occupiers”.

This form of intimidation is unacceptable in present-day Europe and is entirely inconsistent with the spirit of Balkan and EU nation comity. Karakachanov’s reprehensible statements intended to whitewash Bulgarian history should be relegated to a bygone era.

Bulgaria has been dangling its EU-member veto power to aggressively pressure Macedonia to acquiesce to the erasure of Bulgaria’s fascist past. Not to mention Bulgaria’s belittling of the Macedonian language as a “Bulgarian dialect” and the claiming of Macedonian national heroes as their own.

UMD and the Macedonian government have denounced these Bulgarian attacks. The EU and its member states must do the same if they are to be seen to have regard for European democratic values and respect for fundamental rights. The EU must not permit Bulgaria’s demands to go unchallenged if they seek to maintain confidence in the EU accession process and to foster a positive relationship with Macedonia.

Twenty-first century Europe would benefit from facilitating respectful dialogue between states that robustly uphold enshrined rights to identity, language, and history. Old-guard Bulgarian political tactics should have no rightful place in modern Europe.

*Photo is from March 1943, during World War II, of Bulgarian fascist occupiers rounding up over 7,000 Macedonian Jews, putting them on trains, and deporting them to their deaths in the Nazi camp Treblinka.

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