FACT SHEET: Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria

FACT SHEET:  5 Answers to issues raised by Bulgarian officials and press on the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria

Bulgarian Government Claim: No Macedonian minority exists within Bulgaria’s borders.

According to the 2001 Bulgarian census (www.nsi.bg/census/ethnos.htm), 5,071 citizens declared themselves as ethnic Macedonians. Regardless of this highly under representative figure, the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute contradicts the claims of the Bulgarian Government that no Macedonian minority exists within Bulgaria’s borders.

Many statisticians estimate that the real number of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria is closer to 250,000, perhaps more.  For example, in the Bulgarian census of 1946, over 252,000 people declared themselves as ethnic Macedonians.  In the 1956 census, Bulgaria recorded 187,000 Macedonians, however, by the 1965 census, this number inexplicably dropped to 8,700 and the Macedonians had “disappeared” from Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Government Claim: Any pressure on the Bulgarian Government in relation to its Macedonian minority is interference in the internal affairs of Bulgaria.

According to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
a fundamental aspect of the human dimension is that human rights and pluralistic democracy are not considered an internal affair of a state.  Participating OSCE states have stressed that issues relating to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law are of international concern, as respect for these rights and freedoms constitutes one of the foundations of the international order.  

Participating OSCE states “categorically and irrevocably” declared that the “commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension of the OSCE are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating states and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned” (Moscow Document, 1991).  

Therefore, OSCE participating states are no longer in a position to invoke the non-intervention principle to avoid discussions about human rights problems within their countries. The human dimension provides the right to criticize other states concerning violations of human dimension commitments and the duty to assist each other in solving specific problems.  Please see http://www.osce.org/odihr/13494.html for relevant information.

Bulgarian Government Claim: The EFA amendment to the Van Orden report, The Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union 2006, is raising anti-European nationalism amongst the Bulgarian right-wing “ATAKA” party.

The Bulgarian “ATAKA” party is a right-wing xenophobic anti-European Union political party that denies the existence of the Macedonian minority and seeks to deny basic human rights for all minorities in Bulgaria, including Roma and Turks.  Please see http://www.ataka.bg/ for further details about this xenophobic organisation.

Bulgarian Government Claim: Any pressure on the Bulgarian Government to register OMO Ilinden PIRIN is interference in Bulgaria’s judicial system.

Bulgaria is a signatory of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and must abide by its decisions.  In 2005, the ECHR put forward its verdict that it was unconstitutional to deny official registration to the OMO Ilinden PIRIN Party in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian President recently stated that Bulgaria has complied with the ECHR decision on OMO Ilinden PIRIN by paying the imposed fine. The Bulgarian Government believes that it can deny fundamental rights to its minorities by simply “buying” its way out of its responsibilities. The full compliance with the verdict can only be the registration of the party. OMO Ilinden Pirin is an observer member of the European Free Alliance, European Political party that fully respects the EU values of rule of law, peace, democracy and diversity within the EU.

Bulgarian Government Claim: The Bulgarian constitution does not allow political parties to be formed on an ethnic basis; hence, it cannot register OMO Ilinden PIRIN

Membership in OMO Ilinden PIRIN is open to any individual regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, and religion. Please visit OMO Ilinden PIRIN’s website for further details at http://www.omoilindenpirin.org. In the statutes and program of the party, the word “ethnicity” is not used one single time.

Prepared by the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD)

Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora is an international membership organization based in Washington, D.C. addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.

For more information about United Macedonian Diaspora the public is invited to contact the D.C. office at (202) 294-3400, or e-mail at info@umdiaspora.org


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Previous Helsinki Committees Denounce Anti-minority Rhetoric and Discrimination in Bulgaria


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