A strange situation
Now, here’s a strange situation.
Florian Bieber is “a political scientist and historian working on inter-ethnic relations, ethnic conflict and nationalism, focusing on Southeastern Europe. He is a Professor in South East European History and Politics and director of the Center for South East European Studies at the University of Graz” all according to his own website and he does and coordinates other things. And of course he comments quite a bit on Macedonia, and was a champion of the name change. He is, in my estimation, the poster-boy of Balkan “analysts” and sums up the thinking and writing of all those in academia, the media, think tanks, the vast and sprawling EU/NATO/State Department bureaucracy who, like him, hold a far-left worldview.
Regarding Bulgaria’s rubbish claims on Macedonia, Bieber recently wrote the following: “The claim that the state should recognize the Bulgarian origin of the Macedonian nation and admit its Bulgarian roots, as Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva demanded a few days ago is grotesque.” He goes on to write that Bulgaria is also demanding that Macedonia “…renounce the claim that there is a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, while at the same time demanding that Macedonian citizens who identify as Bulgarian should not be discriminated against. This is a classic example of having the cake and eating it too. Minorities cannot be negotiated away between states and should be a matter of self-identification.”
It almost sounds like he is defending Macedonian identity, a noble cause.
But not so fast.
His main motivation for this intervention? The European Union, of which he is a chief champion.
He writes that if Bulgaria gets away with forcing Macedonia to accede to Bulgarian demands, then “…the largest damage is for the EU itself.” The most important thing in all of this is to protect the EU project and he views Bulgaria’s actions as detrimental to the EU. So he is not so much interested in preserving Macedonian identity and the Macedonian language as he is in preserving the EU.
This is true because he goes on to write that “Giving space for different identities is a crucial premise of the Union and it allows members to work together without imposing their view of the past, or their national identity, on each other. The EU is consensus based, which also means that no one state or nation can impose its historical narrative on others.”
Except for the fact that this is obviously not true when it came to Macedonia’s name and his work to get the name changed. And not just the name. If anyone bothers to take time to read the 19 page so-called “Prespa agreement” between Macedonia and Greece, Macedonia was forced into making changes to its identity, language, history, culture and much more, proving the point that Bieber, and those like him who supported that agreement, don’t actually care about Macedonia one bit.
And yet Bieber carries influence — albeit wanning influence — with the policy makers and decision makers in the EU, NATO, the US State Department as well as media.
And on the media, this leads me to Georgi Gotev, publisher and senior editor of media website EURACTIVE dot com and dot BG. He is another voice that is listened to and writes and publishes various opinion pieces which are described as “news” which are then circulated around the various above-mentioned institutions.
His latest is “Macedonia dreamin’” (nice American colloquial English touch there, Georgi) in which he lambasts Macedonia for not caving in to Bulgarian demands (Gotev is, of course, Bulgarian).
In his article he writes as if he works for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noting:
“It would be enough if Skopje admitted that modern Bulgaria and present-day North Macedonia had shared a common history, until the latter became part of Yugoslavia.”
“Language is also an issue. According to the Bulgarian academy of sciences, the language of the Republic of North Macedonia is a dialect of Bulgarian.”
“For Bulgaria, the solution could be that Skopje concedes that the Macedonian language is of Bulgarian origin. For whatever it’s worth, that would solve the problem for Sofia.”
Granted, Gotev thinks that Macedonians really are “North Macedonians” and that they “exist since Yugoslavia invented them” as he tweeted to fellow “journalist” Macedonian Tanja Milevska in a Twitter exchange in March of 2019.
As I wrote last week in “The malignant influence of certain media and academics” there are too many, like the aforementioned Bieber and Gotev, who hold positions of influence in the media, academia, think tanks and other institutions who would be, it seems, quite happy to see Macedonia and the Macedonians go away.
Don’t let these people be happy.