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Macedonians or Macedonian Bulgarians (Bulgarian: Македонски българи or Mакедонци), sometimes also referred to as Macedono-Bulgarians or Macedo-Bulgarians is a regional, ethnographic group of ethnic Bulgarians, inhabiting or originating from the region of Macedonia. Today, the larger part of this population is concentrated in Blagoevgrad Province but much is spread across the whole of Bulgaria and the diaspora.
The Slavic-speaking majority in the Region of Macedonia had been referred to (both, by themselves and outsiders) as Bulgarians, and that is how they were predominantly seen since 10th, up until the early 20th century. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, at the beginning of the 20th century the Macedonian Bulgarians constituted the majority of the population in the whole region of Macedonia, then part of the Ottoman Empire. The functioning of the Bulgarian Exarchate then aimed specifically at differentiating the Bulgarian from the Greek and Serbian populations on an ethnic and linguistic basis, providing the open assertion of a Bulgarian national identity. However one basic distinction between the political agendas of local intelligentsias was clear. The Macedonian Greeks and Serbs followed, in general, the directives coming from their respective centers of national agitation, while by the Bulgarians the term Macedonian was acquiring the significance of a certain political loyalty, that progressively constructed a particular spirit of regional identity. The Balkan Wars (1912–1913) and World War I (1914–1918) left Ottoman Macedonia divided between Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania and resulted in significant changes in its ethnic composition. The immediate effect of the partition of Ottoman Macedonia were the nationalistic campaigns in areas under Serbian and Greek administration, which expelled Bulgarian churchmen and teachers and closed Bulgarian schools and churches. As a consequence a sizable part of the Slavic population of Greek and Serbian Macedonia fled to Bulgaria or was resettled there by virtue of a population exchange agreements. The Bulgarian population in Vardar Banovina was regarded as "Southern Serbs" and a policy of Serbianization was implemented. Within Greece, the Southern Macedonians were designated "Slavophone Greeks".
However most researchers agree that the bulk of the Slavic population in the region had a Bulgarian national identity until the early 1940s, when the Bulgarian troops, occupying most of the area, were greeted as liberators. Pro-Bulgarian feelings among the local Slavic population prevailed, including Greece and Serbia. After the Second World War and Bulgarian withdrawal, on the base of the strong Macedonian regional identity a process of ethnogenesis started and distinct national Macedonian identity was formed. As a whole an appreciable Macedonian national consciousness prior to the 1940s did not exist. At that time even the political organization by the Slavic immigrants from the region of Macedonia, the Macedonian Patriotic Organization has also promoted the idea of Macedonian Slavs being Bulgarians. The nation-building process was politically motivated and later reinforced by strong Bulgarophobia and Yugoslavism. The new authorities began a policy of removing of any Bulgarian influence and creating a distinct Slavic consciousness that would inspire identification with Yugoslavia. With the proclamation of the new Socialist Republic of Macedonia, there were started measures that would overcome the pro-Bulgarian feeling among the population. It has been claimed that from 1944 till the end of the 1940s people espousing a Bulgarian ethnic identity had been oppressed. According to Bulgarian sources more than 100,000 men were imprisoned and some 1,200 prominent Bulgarians were sentenced to death. In addition, the inconsistent policy towards the Macedonian Bulgarians followed by Communist Bulgaria at that time has thrown most independent observers ever since into a state of confusion, as to the real ethnicity of the population even in Bulgarian Macedonia. Practically as a consequence the rest of this people, with exception of Bulgaria proper, were eventually macedonized, hellenized or albanized.
Nevertheless, people with Bulgarian consciousness or Bulgarophile sentiments still live in the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Albania. During the last years the EU membership of Bulgaria has seen around 60,000 Macedonians applying for Bulgarian citizenship. In order to obtain it they must sign a statement declaring they are Bulgarians by origin. About 50,000 Macedonian nationals have already received Bulgarian citizenship. However, this phenomenon can not give precise information about how many Macedonian nationals consider themselves Bulgarians in ethnic sense. It is widely believed that this phenomenon is caused primarily for economic reasons.
Notable Bulgarians from Macedonia
Macedonian Bulgarians have been influential in every field in Bulgarian society, including culture, science, literature, architecture, industry, sports, entertainment, government, and the military.
Many Macedonian Bulgarians have played a prominent role in Bulgaria's independence struggle, such freedom fighters include Ilyo Voyvoda, Hristo Makedonski, Georgi Izmirliev, Ivan Apostolov, Trayko Kitanchev, Dine Abduramanov, Pere Toshev, Andon Dimitrov, Petar Poparsov, Hristo Tatarchev, Gotse Delchev, Ivan Hadzhinikolov, Apostol Petkov, Dame Gruev, Boris Sarafov, Kiryak Shkurtov, Aleksandar Turundzhev, Yane Sandanski, Vasil Chekalarov, Cyril Parlichev, Metody Patchev, Dimo Hadzhidimov, Nikola Karev, Slaveyko Arsov, Kosta Tsipushev, Mile Pop Yordanov, Lazar Poptraykov, Hristo Batandzhiev, Hristo Uzunov, Vasil Adzhalarski, Manush Georgiev, Georgi Sugarev, Todor Aleksandrov, Dimche Sarvanov, Petar Chaulev, Pavel Shatev, Panko Brashnarov, Andon Kyoseto, Ivan Naumov, Hristo Andonov, Ivan Mihailov, Dimitar Gyuzelov, Mara Buneva, etc.
Bulgarian generals and military officers Dimitar Popgeorgiev, Kliment Boyadzhiev, Konstantin Zhostov, Aleksandar Protogerov, Boris Drangov, Petar Darvingov and Kiril Yanchulev served in the Bulgarian Army in the Serbo-Bulgarian War, First Balkan War, Second Balkan War, World War I and World War II, respectively.
Politicians, government ministers and diplomats include Andrey Lyapchev, Dimitar Rizov, Nikola Stoyanov, Simeon Radev, Nikola Milev, Georgi Traykov, Metodi Shatorov, Anton Yugov, Georgi Pirinski, Sergey Stanishev, Rosen Plevneliev, etc.
Macedonian Bulgarians have also contributed to development of Bulgarian culture, art, literature and music, such as Paisius of Hilendar, Kiril Peychinovich, Neofit Rilski, Parteniy Zografski, Nathanael Ohridski, Daskal Kamche, Miladinov brothers, Marko Cepenkov, Grigor Parlichev, Lyubomir Miletich, Kuzman Shapkarev, Yordan Hadzhikonstantinov-Dzhinot, Hristo Silyanov, Dimitar Talev, Hristo Smirnenski, Atanas Dalchev, Nikola Vaptsarov, Voydan Chernodrinski, Atanas Badev, Rayko Aleksiev, Katya Paskaleva, etc.
Still others, such as Dimitar Berbatov, Dimitar Yakimov, Aleksandar Tomov, Irina Nikulchina, Stoycho Mladenov, Georgi Slavkov, Ivan Lebanov, Vasil Metodiev, Nikola Kovachev, Boris Gaganelov, Spiro Debarski, Krasimir Bezinski, Petar Mihtarski, Ivaylo Andonov, Serafim Barzakov, Dimcho Belyakov, Stoycho Stoilov, Georgi Bachev, Kiril Georgiev and Nina Klenovska are prominent athletes and sports people.
- Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia
- Bulgarians in Albania
- Slavic-speakers of Greek Macedonia
- Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
- Macedonia (terminology)
- Macedonian nationalism
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- Most people granted Bulgarian citizenship in 2012 come from Macedonia, 23 January 2013, FOCUS News Agency.
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