Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia

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Bulgarians in the Republic
of Macedonia
Total population
1,417 (census 2001)[1]
50,000 Bulgarian citizens[2][3]
Regions with significant populations
Strumica and surrounding region
Bulgarian and Macedonian
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups

Bulgarians are an ethnic minority in the Republic of Macedonia. Bulgarians are mostly found in the Strumica area,[4] but over the years, the absolute majority of southwestern Republic of Macedonia have declared themselves Macedonian. The town of Strumica and its surrounding area (including Novo Selo) were part of Bulgaria between the Balkan wars and the end of World War I, as well as during the World War II. The total number of Bulgarians counted in the 2002 Census was 1,417 or roughly 0.07%.



Until 1913 the majority of the Slav population of all three parts of the wider region of Macedonia had Bulgarian identity.[5] In 1913, the region of present-day Republic of Macedonia became a part of the Kingdom of Serbia, thus becoming Southern Serbia. During World War II, when most regions of Macedonia were annexed by Bulgaria the pro-Bulgarian sympathies were still strong among the Slavic majority.[6][7] However, harsh treatment by occupying Bulgarian troops reduced significantly the pro-Bulgarian orientation of the Macedonian Slavs.[8] After the end of World War II, the creation of People's Republic of Macedonia and the codification of a new Macedonian language, a process of ethnogenesis started and a distinct national Macedonian identity was formed. The new Yugoslav authorities began a policy of removing of any Bulgarian influence, making Macedonia a connecting link for the establishment of new Balkan Communist Federation and creating a distinct Slavic consciousness that would inspire identification with Yugoslavia.[9] The authorities took also repressive measures that would overcome the pro-Bulgarian feelings among parts of the population, such as the Bloody Christmas in 1945.[10][10][11] In Macedonia the Bulgarophobia increased almost to the level of state ideology,[12] and the communists were successful in removing all Bulgarian influence in the region.[10]

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Bulgarian citizens

The fall of Communism to present-day[edit]

By the time the Republic of Macedonia proclaimed its independence those who continued to look to Bulgaria were very few.[10] Some 3,000 - 4,000 people that stuck to their Bulgarian identity (most of them living in Strumica and the surroundings) met great hostility among the authorities and the rest of the population. With the fall of Communism this hostility has decreased, but still remains.[10] Occasional trials against Bulgarophiles have continued until today.[13][14]


Bulgarians and Bulgarophiles in the Republic of Macedonia do not have their own political parties, but still have political activity. Many politicians revealed their bulgarophilness after leaving the political stage as Ljubčo Georgievski and Antonio Milošoski.[15] During the last few years, rising economic prosperity and the EU membership of Bulgaria has seen around 60,000 Macedonians applying for Bulgarian citizenship;[16] in order to obtain it they must provide evidence of their Bulgarian origin and sign a statement declaring they are Bulgarians by origin. About 50,000 Macedonian nationals have received Bulgarian citizenship in the past 10 years.[17][18]

Association Radko[edit]

Association Radko is an illegal Bulgarian political organisation it the Republic of Macedonia. The "Radko" association was registered in Ohrid in 2000. In 2001 the Constitutional Court of Republic of Macedonia banned the organization Radko as "promoting racial and religious hate and intolerance".[19] The association is named after the conspiration pseudonym of Ivan Mihailov, leader of Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization during the interbellum. In official Macedonian historiography, Mihailov is a terrorist and a Bulgarian chauvinist. In 2009 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, condemned Republic of Macedonia because of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights in this case.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Republic of Macedonia - State Statistical Office
  2. ^ Промени в българското гражданство през периода 22.01.2002 - 30.09.2011 и 22.01.2002-14.12.2011
  3. ^ Брой на българските граждани в чужбина (2011 г.) | www.EuroChicago.com - The Bulgarian Media Portal in Chicago
  4. ^ Yugoslavism: histories of a failed idea, 1918-1992, Dejan Djokić, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2003, ISBN 1-85065-663-0, p. 122.
  5. ^ Center for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE) - Macedonians of Bulgaria
  6. ^ The struggle for Greece, 1941-1949, Christopher Montague Woodhouse, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2002, ISBN 1-85065-492-1, p. 67.
  7. ^ Who are the Macedonians? Hugh Poulton, Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1995, ISBN 1-85065-238-4, ISBN 978-1-85065-238-0, p. 101.
  8. ^ Kaufman, Stuart J. (2001). Modern hatreds: the symbolic politics of ethnic war. New York: Cornell University Press. p. 193. ISBN 0-8014-8736-6. While Bulgarian was most common affiliation then, mistreatment by occupying Bulgarian troops during WWII cured most Macedonians from their pro-Bulgarian sympathies, leaving them embracing the new Macedonian identity promoted by the Tito regime after the war. 
  9. ^ Europe since 1945. Encyclopedia by Bernard Anthony Cook. ISBN 0-8153-4058-3, pg. 808. [1]
  10. ^ a b c d e Djokić, Dejan (2003). Yugoslavism: Histories of a Failed Idea, 1918-1992. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 122. ISBN 1-85065-663-0. 
  11. ^ Phillips, John (2004). Macedonia: Warlords and Rebels in the Balkans. I.B.Tauris. p. 40. ISBN 1-86064-841-X. 
  12. ^ Mirjana Maleska. Editor-in-chief. WITH THE EYES OF THE "OTHERS". (about Macedonian-Bulgarian relations and the Macedonian national identity). New Balkan Politics - Journal of Politics. ISSUE 6 [2]
  13. ^ Violations of Human Rights of Macedonian citizens with a Bulgarian ethnic consciousness 1990-1997
  14. ^ Court for waved Bulgarian flag in Macedonia.
  15. ^ Утрински весник, 07.08.2009, Непотребно заострување на односите, Филип Петровски.
  16. ^ Sofia Echo, Dec. 17, 2007. Almost 60 000 Macedonians were waiting for their Bulgarian citizenship.
  17. ^ Bulgarian citizenship: the latest numbers
  18. ^ Most people granted Bulgarian citizenship in 2012 come from Macedonia, 23 January 2013, FOCUS News Agency.
  20. ^ Judgment 15 January 2009, (Application no. 74651/01)