Historian Dragi Gjorgiev, Chairman of the Northern Macedonia Group in the Joint Interdisciplinary Commission for Historical and Educational Issues with Bulgaria, considered in an interview with SITEL television that the recent statement by the Prime Minister of the country, the latest decision of Zoran Zaev to delete of the offensive term “bulgarian” from the expression “fascist occupier” in monuments and textbooks is a message to Bulgaria that there must be dialogue in order to reach the historic reconciliation between the two peoples.
“When we talk about the so-called memory policy of a nation’s past, then to make decisions about this memory policy, which usually results in what is written in the monuments and how the public perceives this past, by seeing things through the eyes of politics, then a lot of discussions, talks, consensus in public opinion are needed to make a decision on how to present an event or a certain person from the past.I do not see this statement of our Prime Minister as a statement that will be implemented immediately and on the basis of which tomorrow on the ground will begin the deletion of some offensive labels from those that have been placed so far.I see this statement more as an attempt, a signal to the other party as to “Historical reconciliation between the Macedonian (sic) and Bulgarian people, there should be a dialogue, all painful issues should be discussed between us and that this is the solution to reach reconciliation,” Gjorgiev said.
Answering the question whether this means forgiveness, without forgetting, Gjorgiev stressed that these are the most appropriate words: “forgiveness, but not forgetfulness”.
If there is a reaction or response from the Bulgarian side, Gjorgiev stressed that this is the biggest part of the problem, because so far all the efforts of the Commission and the country’s policy to get some kind of positive response from the Bulgarian side have hit a wall a lot. strong.
“That is why such a statement, such an attempt, I would say, by the Prime Minister to somehow encourage such a dialogue between the two parties has provoked strong reactions in our public opinion, because on the other hand we have not heard anything. “It is nothing but an open denial of our history, our identity, the Macedonian language (sic). This is what the public opinion reacted to,” Gjorgiev said.
He noted that on this issue there were no formal talks between members of the two groups in the Commission, but occasionally, on vacation, the issue was raised. The main problem, he said, “is that in Bulgarian historiography and in the perception of its Macedonian past, the prevailing view is that Macedonia is historically a Bulgarian country.”
“This is also present in textbooks in Bulgaria and we noted it and gave it as an observation, as something that needs to be changed and modified in textbooks in Bulgaria. Hence the position of Bulgarian historiography and politics that Bulgaria cannot be the occupier of a country which, in their view of the past, is historically a Bulgarian country. That is why they saw themselves either as liberators of this territory – according to them Bulgarians – or as administrators. That is why the term invader is a painful word for them that they cannot accept, “Gjorgiev also noted.
Regarding the current status of the Commission, Gjorgiev said that the team in the Commission received a mandate from the government (Northern Macedonia) in 2018 and that this mandate has not yet been withdrawn, however from a legal point of view the Commission is in a state of stagnation due to the renewal of agreements that have in fact already lasted for four years.