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Historically there have been many Bulgarians in the Strumica area of the Republic of Macedonia. At the same time, until 1913 the majority of the Slav population of Macedonia had Bulgarian identity. During World War II, most parts of Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia were annexed by Bulgaria, and the local Slavic-speakers were regarded and self-identified as Macedonian Bulgarians. Not until much later did the process of Macedonian national identity formation gain momentum. After 1944 the People's Republic of Bulgaria and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began a policy of making Macedonia a connecting link for the establishment of new Balkan Federative Republic and stimulating there a development of distinct Slav Macedonian consciousness. Therefore, it is not surprising that, ever since the Republic of Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia in the decade of 1990, the relationship with Bulgaria has not been without controversy and disputes.