View Full Version : Bulgarian “Macedonian” Nationalism
06-04-2012, 03:59 AM
In 1878, as a result of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Bulgaria achieved her independence. The ensuing Treaty of San Stefano granted Bulgaria the regions of Macedonia and Thrace. The territories given to Bulgaria were in accordance to the plebiscite of 1870-1871, which established the Bulgarian Exarchate to be sovereign over ethnic Bulgarians and/or people who identified themselves as Bulgarians (Bakalova). However, threatened by a large and powerful pro-Russian Bulgarian state on the strategic Balkan peninsular, the Great Powers intervened by summoning the Congress of Berlin, which sought to revise the treaty of San Stefano. The result of the Congress was the return of Macedonia and part of Thrace to the Ottoman Empire, and the division of the remaining Bulgarian territory into the independent Kingdom of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, which was to acquire the status of an autonomous region within the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, emerging victorious form the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885, Bulgaria achieved the unification of the independent Kingdom of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.
06-04-2012, 05:32 AM
Macedonia under Tito is a perfect example of the invention of tradition from top to bottom, along Hobsbawm’s lines, with the purpose of building a nation. Under Tito Macedonia was first recognized as a separate nation. Tito’s model of solving nationality issues was similar to that of Stalin, whereby “brotherhood and unity” were promoted to deal with crises of nationality. Thus, under the general guidance of Tito the Macedonian nation was given its corresponding territorial boundaries embodied in the Social Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; a Macedonian Autocephalous Church was established; and a Macedonian language was codified (Engström 2002: 5-6).
With the fall of communism and the consequent lack of a great power in the region to “supervise” political developments, Macedonia’s “invented nationality” came under attack from all of its neighbors. It became evident that Tito and Yugoslavia had borrowed heavily from the histories of neighboring states to construct a believable and suitable Macedonian identity/nationality that at times clamed Alexander the Great among its ancestors (Bell in Engström 2002: 6). Macedonia was hard pressed from all sides – Bulgaria contested its national identity; Greece contested its name and symbols; and Serbia its religious identity, for Macedonia still lacks an independent Exarchate/Patriarchate (Engström 2002: 3; Özergan 2003: 43).
Bulgaria could not have recognized both the state and the nation of Macedonia, for the simple reason that Macedonia claimed a part of Bulgarian history, hence recognizing the nation would mean giving up a part of Bulgarian national historical identity. And in this sense the nationalistic struggle between Bulgaria and Macedonia becomes the struggle between Macedonia’s “invented traditions” and Bulgaria’s factual and established history and identity.
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