Reuniting Europe

This is not Wikileaks, it’s actually better. A document in the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia says that according to estimates by Skopje, 750.000 Macedonians live on the territory of Bulgaria and 700.000 other on the territory of Greece.

This is the document, which is a bit difficult to be found, as it is on the Macedonian language version of the website, in the section ‘Diaspora’, then down to “Повръзани документи”, and click on „Список за Броjност, Лекторати и Здружениjа”. I made a web copy because it could be removed or hacked.

Greece doesn’t accept the name ‘Macedonia’ for this new country on the map of Europe because it fears that it entails territorial claims.

In fact, Macedonia is a wide geographic region stretching across three countries that for decades was called Pirin Macedonia in Bulgaria, Aegean Macedonia in Greece and Vardar Macedonia for the territory corresponding to the former Yugoslav republic.

The latest census has shown that 1.654 Bulgarians have identified themselves as Macedonians. Skopje doesn’t quote this poll, but an earlier one from 2001 where the figure was 5.071. But the document adds that the “estimation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” (МВР проценка) is of 750.000 Macedonians in Bulgaria. Similarly, the estimation for Greece is of 700.000, adding that on the occasion of the 1925 census the number of Macedonians was 162.506. Strange, because in 1925 Macedonia was neither a nationality nor an ethnicity.

If indeed 750.000 Macedonians live in Bulgaria and another 700.000 in Greece, this probably means that the entire population of Pirin Macedonia and Aegean Macedonia are populated by “Macedonians”, whatever that means (see map I ‘borrowed’ from a Skopje nationalist blog).

(I was born in Pirin Macedonia myself, in the beautiful city of Blagoevgrad, and I was probably “counted” as “Macedonian” too…)

Greece has claimed that Skopje puts an equal sign between the name of the country and the name of the region. The document I found it the website of the Macedonia Foreign Ministry appears to confirm these suspicions.

On 16 April the Commission will publish a report on FYROM, as the EU executive calls Macedonia. My expectation is this will be a self-congratulation by Commissioner Stefan Fuele for his recent (messy) troubleshooting in this country, nothing more. I should say something about his troubleshooting on another occasion.

A decision whether to start accession negotiations with Skopje is due in June. No chance, from my perspective. A EU diplomat told me that Skopje expects that its EU accession would “authorize it to make territorial claims to its two EU neigbours”.

By the way, why the newly built Triumph Arch feature “Pirin” (Bulgaria) alongside “Vardar” (FYROM territory)?

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