“23 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain another ‘Berlin Wall’ of prejudices and stereotypes is still raised up both in Sofia and in Skopje,” writes Macedonian analyst Ljupco Popovski in an article published by the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik daily.
“Sometimes it seems inexplicable how come we still hear some paternal messages coming from Sofia about the lost kids living in Macedonia, whose brains have been washed with Serbian soap so as to become a separate nation.
Here, on the other hand, the Bulgarians are considered as some poorer cousins. This is an approach seen even in those, who go and rest comfortably at the luxurious resorts in Bansko or Sandanski every single winter.
The stereotypes of the less worthy neighbours remain, though we have been sharing the history for thousand of years and though Bulgaria is already a member of NATO and the EU – if you ask us, they [the Bulgarians] do not deserve this progress pass,” Popovski writes further.
“It is a pity that these stereotypes dominate over the relations between the two countries and the two nations. To us it seems curious and we even find it too pretentious when Sofia holds round table discussions but when the debate is focused on the route followed by Macedonia (like the one held last Friday) we hurry to declare this event an interference and intrusion into our home affairs.
Here no one has ever seen any information or has ever heard that such forums are held every year for each of Bulgaria’s neighbours and that this is part of Bulgaria’s vision for development of the Balkan countries. If we bother to consider the issue more thoroughly, we will see that Skopje has never organised debates on the way followed by Greece and Bulgaria.
We are obsessed with ourselves, our fears and our false or real myths and we have completely forgotten about our neighbours.
It seems as if Sofia finds it hard to forget the fact that Macedonia exists since 1944 and it is a country that has fully established a national awareness. Thus, it seems paradoxical that some wise men in Sofia, such as historians and academicians, are having a bitter and deep sigh when saying that we, the one on the other side of Deve Bair, are staling history.
A Macedonian analyst, an expert in the Bulgarian reality, said that this paternalism over ‘the lost kids’ is in line with the stereotypes, which have been incited in Bulgaria for centuries and namely that the Macedonians are Bulgarians with Aryan blood and they are the bravest on Bulgarian lands, but under the influence of Belgrade and the Macedonian language some national self-awareness as Macedonians has been created.
Fighting the prejudices and stereotypes is like fighting windmills.
When the Municipal Council in Skopje changed the names of the streets, several hundreds of people went out on the streets and started scanning ‘Bulgarians, Bulgarians!”
The decision for the renaming was not made by people, who were instructed by Sofia, but still this move proves the lack of trust on this side of the border.
For fifty years, inspired by some ideological motives, here we used to speak about the Bulgarians as some poor people, enslaved under a regime. What did we know about the Bulgarian culture, art, movies, architecture, heritage and language? Nothing! Nothing – that’s what we know about them even now. It seems as if we have never shared history together.
On the other side of Deve Bair they speak about deceived fathers, about Macedonia as the most romantic part of the Bulgarian history.
They will speak about the possible future name of our country (just like the prime minister), about yellow cards, but they will not try to build broader motorways for better communication between the two nations.
Bulgaria and Macedonia have never been more distanced over the last 20 years.
It’s high time for cold chapters and talks between true neighbours,” Popovski writes.