On Apr 1, the biggest expert on the Macedonian problem in Sofia, professor Bozhidar Dimitrov (former Bulgarian Diaspora Minister and Director of Sofia’s National History Museum) joked that he had been asked to take the lead of the Macedonian government and had agreed but his only precondition to the winners of the last year’s parliamentary elections in FYR Macedonia – the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDUM) – was that they had to recognize the Bulgarian nature of the Macedonian state, that is, to make FYR Macedonia the second Bulgarian state - just like the Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) is the second Armenian state. The joke was very funny and people in both Sofia and Skopje laughed a lot.
But what happened later was not a joke: on Apr 27, a group of Macedonian Bulgarians attacked the parliament and beat the Social Democrats for their plans to form the new cabinet together with four Albanian parties (Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov opposes this plan and has even refused to let the leader of the Social Democrats Zoran Zaev into the parliament). The police were unable or reluctant to stop the attackers. The latter said that Interior Minister, former fighter Agim Nuhiu had to resign. Nuhiu shifted the blame onto Director of the Public Security Bureau Mitko Chavkov. This dispute marked a new stage in the conflict that started in the spring 2001.
The cause of the conflict was the election of ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi as the Speaker of the Macedonian Parliament. Xhaferi was the commander of an Albanian para-military unit during the ethnic war in the spring 2001. On Apr 24, 2017, as Defense Minister, he tried to drive his way through a group of protesters but was stopped by the police. The Albanian-Bulgarian clashes ended in the agreement of Ohrid (the ancient capital of Bulgaria, a city with lots of Orthodox churches and monasteries. For the Bulgarians Ohrid is the same as Novgorod, Pskov and Kiev are for the Russians). The agreement gave the Macedonian Albanians lots of administrative and political privileges. In fact, it let them isolate the northwest of FYR Macedonia. But now that they have as many as four parties in the parliament, they want more.
- First of all, they have tried to break the Ohrid Agreement, which says that during parliamentary elections the best ethnic Bulgarian party should form a coalition with the best ethnic Albanian party. In the Dec 2016 race, the best from the ethnic Bulgarians was IMRO, while SDUM was the runner-up.
However, the leader of the best ethnic Albanian force, the Democratic Union for Integration, Ali Ahmeti (also a unit commander during the 2001 war) laid impracticable conditions to the leader of IMRO Nikola Gruevski (his predecessor was Ljubco Georgievski, who was Bulgarian citizen and founded IMRO as a pro-Bulgarian force).
- Second, Talat Xhaferi was elected amid serious violations of the parliamentary regulations. As a result, most of the IMRO members do not recognize him and demand new elections. The ethnic Bulgarians are of the same opinion.
One more circumstance neglected by most of the western and some Russian journalists is that had Gruevski accepted Ahmeti’s preconditions during the winter talks, radical Bulgarian demonstrators would have crushed his office and would have beaten him and his deputies. One of Ahmeti’s precondition was making Albanian equal to the Macedonian dialect of Bulgarian, changing FYR Macedonia’s flag and anthem and involving Albanian forces in FYR Macedonia’s talks with Greece concerning its name. The Greeks say that the name “Macedonia” is part of their historical heritage and are blocking FYR Macedonia’s attempts to join European and international organizations.
Spokesman of the Democratic Union for Integration Bujar Osmani backed up Ahmeti by saying that he would always stand up to the sounds of the Albanian anthem but would never care for the Macedonian one as it did not reflect the presence of a big Albanian minority in the country. Xhaferi was even more straightforward by putting an Albanian flag on his table.
The latest developments have shown that the Macedonian Bulgarians have not lost their self-preservation instinct and that the war of 2001 has taught them a lot. Today, they are ready to fight for the remains of their state and to prevent the loss of the northwest, where in historical Bulgarian centers of Tetovo, Debar and Gostivar the prevailing majority is Albanians. Struga and Kicevo are also facing the threat of being Albanized. Struga is the birthplace of many leaders of the Bulgarian National Revival and its loss would be a big blow for the Bulgarian super-ethnos (here we are referring to super ethnicity term first used by Russian philosopher Gerasim Yugay with respect to the divided Korean nation).
The leader of IMRO got angry when they learned that before the parliamentary elections, the leaders of all the four Albanian parties had visited Tirana, where Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama instructed them on the so-called Tirana Platform, a concept uniting all FYR Macedonia-based Albanian forces against the local authorities. This fact has been neglected by the EU, U.S. and Canadian ambassadors and all the Soros-sponsored Macedonian and foreign mass media. Of the EU members, only Hungary and Greece supported Gruevski in his fight against Soros and his foundation. Later, the Austrian and Slovenian prime ministers joined them by saying that since Gruevski’s party had won the elections Gruevski was to become prime minister.
It is not a secret that there have been lots of pro-Albanian forces in the United States since the times when ethnic Albanian George Tenet was the head of the CIA. But Western Europe is worried about the growing support for Tirana and Pristina’s territorial and geopolitical ambitions as this support reflects the growing abilities of Albanian mafia in Germany, Switzerland and other European states. According to western special services, Albanian groups control the traffic of weapons and drugs and the organization of ordered murders. There are lots of Albanians even in the world-renowned Sicilian mafia.
The leaders of IMRO and SDUM, unlike their colleagues from the four Albanian parties, keeps slinging mud on each other and accusing each other of being both pro-Russia and pro-Western. Gruevski has been called Moscow’s agent for his decisions to provide the Macedonian territory to the TurkStream project and to let Invest Group to invest money in its activities (without that company Skopje would have no electricity). In his turn, Zaev is suspected of serving the West’s interests. Both he and the former Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski were born in Strumnica on the border with Bulgaria. In the past, many Bulgarians adopted Protestantism so as to oppose the Constantinople Patriarchate’s attempts to Hellenize them. Consequently, they and their descendants are oriented towards the Anglo-Saxon West. And both Trajkovski and Zaev worship everything that comes from overseas.
The American and British special services are worried that the Macedonian Bulgarians like Russia (even though they don’t like it as much as their brothers from Bulgaria do) and are taking countermeasures: On Apr 30, May 2 and May 7, Sunday Times issued articles about the Kremlin’s activities in FYR Macedonia. The author, some Bojan Pancevski seems to know most of his colleagues from Skopje but I haven’t heard of him so far.
One of the headlines says: “Switch loyalty to Russia or suffer!” And the content is that Russia is trying to impose its presence in the Balkans, including small poor FYR Macedonia, where it has plotted a conflict so as to be able to “fish in troubled waters.” The reaction of Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Russia’s Embassy in Skopje was that the organizer of the conflict in FYR Macedonia is the West. It was then that Russian Ambassador to FYR Macedonia Oleg Scherbak decided to move the celebrations of the May 9 Victory from Skopje to the second biggest city, Bitola. One of the reason was that in Skopje pro-Russian moods are not as strong as in the rest of FYR Macedonia.
It should be noted that one of the reasons why people like Bojan Pancevski are efficient in spoiling the Russian-Bulgarian friendship is that some Russian journalists and historians are making unprofessional statements that the Bulgarians of FYR Macedonia have nothing to do with the Bulgarians living in Bulgaria.
But the fact is that out of the 1,250,000 ethnic Bulgarians living in FYR Macedonia, as many as 250,000 have already obtained Bulgarian passports or are going to do it. And those people represent all political forces in FYR Macedonia.