North Macedonia is one of the newest countries on Earth, it gained its independence on the 8th of September 1991. As soon as the new nation gained its independence there was major drama, with Albanian separatist sentiment growing in the north-western regions that border what is now Kosovo (whose independence was and still is contested by Serbia) and Albania. Both Kosovo and Albania are inhabited by mainly ethnic Albanians. In most of this investigation article, we will be explaining the complicated topic of the new ethnic Macedonian identity and at the end, we will be sharing our findings in an investigation that we have conducted by the only ethnic Macedonian newspaper in the Blagoevgrad district (also known as Pirin Macedonia) in Bulgaria

Insurgency in Macedonia

There was fear of civil war and ethnic cleansing like had gone on in Yugoslavia. Macedonia as it was then known as the only former republic of Yugoslavia to leave the union peacefully. This peaceful transition was at risk, from a potential conflict between the Albanians (who are estimated to be 20% and 30% of the entire population of North Macedonia) and the Macedonian majority. After a few fatal skirmishes including the Vejce Ambush, which was a surprise attack by a separatist Albanian organization called the UCK that resulted in the death of 8 Macedonian soldiers.

Throughout this insurgency in what is now North Macedonia, in 1999 Bulgaria donated 93 T-55 Tanks and 108 heavy mortars to the Macedonian government as a sign of support for the new country. Furthermore, Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of Macedonia (now North Macedonia). While Serbia which Macedonia was in a union with under Yugoslavia from 1946 to 1991 waited for five years until 1996 to recognize Macedonia as an independent state. With then Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic calling Macedonia an ‘artificial country’ while also trying to arrest the leadership of Macedonia to try and stop them from declaring the independence of their country.

Name and Flag Issue With Greece

Furthermore soon after the Republic of Macedonia peacefully left Yugoslavia it had to have a new name and also a flag. The name of Macedonia was controversial as there is a province of northern Greece called Macedonia and also the Greek Macedon Empire. Before Macedonia’s independence there were worries in Greece about Yugoslavia’s territorial ambitions on Greek territory however it was not as big as an issue as when Macedonia became its own sovereign country.

The Vergina Sun, a Greek symbol that has led to a lot of tension between Greece and North Macedonia due to the ethnic Macedonians claiming it as their symbol.

The Greeks were upset and worried that this new country of Macedonia that was inhabited mainly by Slavs will try claim the heritage of the Hellenic kingdom of Macedon and many hundreds of years of Greek history.

Greece blocked the new country’s entry into the United Nations and also other organizations such as Nato. This increased the amount of animosity between the two countries and led to Macedonian nationalists doubling down on their claims of Greek history which led to the adoption of Vergina Sun or as known in Bulgarian and Macedonian ‘The Star of Kutlesh’. The Vergina Sun was a popular Greek symbol between the 6th century B.C and the 2nd century A.D. It was used by the Ancient Macedonians who were Hellenic people and continued to be used by people primarily in the region of Macedonia.

After the Vergina Sun was adopted as the official flag of the Republic of Macedonia, Greece set up an embargo in 1994 on all goods from the Republic of Macedonia which led to an economic loss of $2 billion in the Republic of Macedonia. The only way for the Republic of Macedonia to export its goods at the time was using the assistance of Bulgaria as it was the only stable country that bordered the Republic of Macedonia at the time that also had access to the sea (with Albania, Kosovo and Serbia & Montenegro being unstable due to the Yugoslav Wars). If it wasn’t for the help from Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia’s economy would have without a doubt suffered much larger economic losses.

In October 1995, the Republic of Macedonia agreed to change its flag from the Vergina Sun to the modern North Macedonian flag. Furthermore, the country was allowed in the United Nations under the temporary name of F.Y.R.O.M (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

But it wasn’t until the Prespa Agreement that was officially signed on the 12th of June 2018 that name issues between Greece and North Macedonia were sorted out. With the Republic of Macedonia also known as FYROM changing its name to North Macedonia. This allowed North Macedonia to join NATO and saw Greece lift its veto on North Macedonia joining the European Union. Furthermore North Macedonia had to admit that the Ancient Empire of Macedon was a Greek country and also had to remove the Sun of Vergina from government and public use. It only took 21 years in total for the two countries to come to this agreement.

Brief History of Macedonia and the Macedonians

The Macedonians are interesting in their own special way but at the same time are nothing unique. The Macedonian national identity was something forced upon them during the Yugoslavian occupation, before that for over one thousand years since the times of the First Bulgarian Empire that took over the region of Macedonia and all of North Macedonia in the 9th century. Although as early as the 7th century the Bulgarians of Kuber settled in the region of Macedonia.

After the Second Bulgarian Empire fell between 1395 and 1396, Bulgaria as with most of the Balkans was under Ottoman rule for over five centuries until the 19th century. The weakened Ottoman Empire that had not managed to keep pace with the industrialization and imperialism of other Great Powers such as Russia and Great Britain was known as the ‘sick man of Europe’.

During the 19th century the minorities of the Ottoman Empire, particularly in the Balkans such as the Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgarians began to fight for their independence. Serbia and Greece were already independent countries although much smaller with many Serbs and Greeks being located in Ottoman borders. Bulgaria became independent in 1878 under the Treat of Berlin, however, most of the Bulgarians remained under the Ottoman rule in Rumelia (which later reunited with Bulgaria in 1885), in Thrace, and also in the region of Macedonia.

The ethnic composition of the central Balkans in 1870 by the English-German cartographer E.G. Ravenstein. (With Bulgarians in orange)

Macedonia was a very diverse place, home to Aromanians, Turks, Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgarians. Not all of the region of Macedonia was inhabited by Bulgarians although most of the Slavs of Macedonia did self-identify as Bulgarians as shown by public censuses conducted by the Ottoman Empire by multiple cartographers which you can see above and below.

Ethnographic map of the Balkans in 1847 from the Austrian ethnographer Ami Boué. (With Bulgarians in yellow)

Eventually, the region of Macedonia became one of the most contested regions in the Ottoman Empire due to how multicultural it was. It also held particular importance to the Greeks who saw it as an autochthonous territory due to the Ancient Greek Macedonian Empire, also there were significant populations of Greeks in many parts of the region of Macedonia especially the southern regions. Furthermore, it was of strategic importance as Greece Serbia did not want to allow the Macedonian Bulgarians to rejoin Bulgaria as it would potentially make Bulgaria too influential in the Balkans.

Eventually in 1913 at the Treaty of Bucharest, the region of Macedonia was divided between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria which got the smallest part of Macedonia. The partition of the region was strictly political, and the winners of the Second Balkan War got the largest parts with the opinion of the local populations of the region of Macedonia not being considered.

The fight continued however, the Macedonian Bulgarian population that remained in Macedonia (after hundreds of thousands fled from the region into the country of Bulgaria) continued to fight for their freedom. The IMRO also known as the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization was the main organization behind the fight for freedom, the IMRO was founded in 1893 to fight for autonomy for the regions of Macedonia and Adrianople, membership for the organization was restricted only to Bulgarians. One of the best-known actions was the assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia by Bulgarian nationalist Vlado Chernozemski.

From 1913 until 1946, the Kingdom of Serbia (from 1918 known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) the people of Vardar Macedonia (today North Macedonia) were called South Serbs or Serbs by the authorities in Belgrade. During both World War 1 and World War 2, Bulgarian invaded Yugoslavia in order to free their compatriots.

After Bulgaria the Second World War, Bulgaria had to give back Macedonia to the Yugoslavs. The new dictator in charge Josip Broz Tito or simply Tito, came to power. He wanted to sort out forever the Macedonian Bulgarian problem that had been going on for nearly half a century in Serbia. Tito and his fellow Yugoslav communists decided to create a brand new identity ‘the Macedonians’.

This was done for a variety of reasons:

  • The term ‘Macedonian’ was already a regional qualifier used by all residents of the region of Macedonia.
  • Macedonia is a term that already existed as a region and over two thousand years ago as the Greek Kingdom of Macedon which will help create the illusion that this state had existed before which will help with the forging of a new identity. This will also give Yugoslavia a casus belle on the other parts of the region of Macedonia, particularly Greek Macedonia that was home to the metropolis of Thessaloniki or Solun in Bulgarian which was an important trading hub in the sea that will provide Yugoslavia with extra maritime access.
  • The Serbs had already tried multiple times since 1913 to Serbianize the population, however with little success as the Serbian language is not very similar to Bulgarian. They simply did not want to risk a dangerous rebellion.
  • Tito was a Croat, he did not want to Serbianize the Macedonian Bulgarians as this will give the Serbs within Yugoslavia too much power.
  • Tito wanted to put an end once and for all to the Bulgarian nationalist and consciousness within Macedonia. If Macedonia reunited with Bulgaria, it would weaken Yugoslavia while strengthening Bulgaria.
  • If the population of Macedonia continued to identify as Bulgarians then there could potentially be international and internal pressure for reunification or extra rights.
  • Bulgaria was also not a part of Yugoslavia at the time although there were plans for her to one day join which never ended up materializing.

Creation of a New Identity

The creation of this new identity began immediately after the creation of the People’s Republic of Macedonia in 1946. This rewriting of history was done by an organization ironically called the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia or ASNOM. Initially the organization was filled with Macedonian Bulgarians such as Panko Brashnarov and Metodi Andonov-Chento who wanted autonomy for the the new Republic of Macedonia within Yugoslavia and were against the debulgarization of the population. However, those that stood up against the Yugoslav authorities including Brashnarov and Chento who were sent to labor camps. Brashnarov died in prison and was buried in an unmarked grave while Chento was released by died a few years later from the torture that he experienced in prison.

There was also ‘Bloody Chritmas’ which took place between the 7th and 9th of January 1945, during this event an estimated 4,700 Macedonian Bulgarians were killed or dissapeared. With an estimated further 100,000 people being imprisoned, deported and persecuted during Bloody Chritmas and the years after.

After the majority of the most influential and outspoken Bulgarians in Macedonia were taken care of, the Yugoslavs started to construct this new Macedonian national identity. All famous Bulgarians from the region of Macedonia automatically became Macedonians, a new language was codified which was a Serbified version of Bulgarian. This new language was announced on the 2nd of August 1944.

The Ethnic Macedonian Identity

Until the end of the Second World War there was no widely accepted ethnic Macedonian ethnicity by the population of Vardar Macedonia and the rest of the region of Macedonia. Although there was certain famous examples of famous Bulgarians arguing for the creation of an autonomous Macedonian country due to the major opposition from Greece and Serbia (later Yugoslavia) for Vardar Macedonia to join Bulgaria.

These famous figures were Georgi Pulevski who was the first author to express the idea that the Macedonian Slavs were different from Bulgarians in 1875 when he attempted to create the Macedonian language, however, later in his life, Pulevski expressed his regret in 1882 in front of the Bulgarian Parliament of the failure of the unification of Macedonia with Bulgaria. Furthermore, there was Yane Sandanski and Gotse Delchev who supported an autonomous Macedonia but they saw the Slav Macedonian population of Macedonia as Bulgarians.

Finally, there was Krste Misirkov who was a Slav born in Aegean Macedonia, between 1903 and 1907 he published several books and magazines where he tried to standardize the Macedonian language he also argued for a Macedonian identity. However, he did see Macedonians as part of a pan-Bulgarian identity. In his letters of appeal to the Ottomans to recognize an autonomous Macedonian, in those letters he said that the Macedonian Slavs called themselves Bulgarians but that the state should be created nonetheless to guarantee peace in that area of the Balkans.

After the Serbs retook Vardar Macedonia now known as North Macedonia at the end of WW2 they stopped trying to turn them into Serbs but instead they decided to turn them into ethnic Macedonians that were different to Bulgarians. They done this by changing the language by Serbianizing in order to make it a bit more different from the Bulgarian language.

After that, they went on to create diverse Macedonian historiography that taught the mostly illiterate population of Macedonia that there had been a diverse Macedonian ethnic identity (rather than a regional one). This was done by falsifying that the regional term Macedonian was actually an ethnic one as well as rewriting the ethnicity of mostly Bulgarian but also Greek and Albanian famous and historical figures. These figures include Greek King Alexander the Great as well as his family and associates with the whole Greek Empire of Macedon automatically become a separate ethnically Macedonian nation. Furthermore, virtually all Bulgarians from the region of Macedonia were written as Macedonians, such as Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria who ruled over the First Bulgarian Empire, in the new artificial Macedonian historiography his kingdom was renamed to simply Samuel’s Kingdom. Furthermore, all revolutionaries that fought for the IMRO, which was a Bulgarian revolutionary organization that for much of its history only allowed ethnic Bulgarians to join (this was redacted from the new Macedonian historiography).

Another great example of this fabrication of history is the changing of a famous play called ‘Macedonian Blood Wedding’ which was a play written about Macedonian Bulgarians in the region of Macedonia by Bulgarian playwright Voydan Popgeorgiev – Chernodrinski. In the new Macedonian version of the play, all mention of ‘Bulgarian’ and ‘Bulgaria’ was changed as you can see in the comparison table between the original and Macedonian that we have featured below from Wikipedia(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_Blood_Wedding). Additionally Albanian saint Mother Teresa was made into a Macedonian and Serbian Prince Marko into a Macedonian.

Comparison between the original script of Macedonian Blood Wedding to the falsified version created after WW2 in the People’s Republic of Macedonia (later Socialist Republic of Macedonia)

And just like the new Macedonian was constructed and enforced after the Second World War by the Yugoslavian authorities who tried to create the impression that the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was an autonomous republic when in fact like in the USSR it was controlled and dominated by the authorities in Belgrade, Serbia. The new Macedonian identity was constructed through murder, false imprisonment, disappearances, deportation, falsification of history and the indoctrination of the new ethnic Macedonians to hate Bulgarians and everything to do with Bulgaria.

The ‘Oppressed Ethnic Macedonians’ in United Macedonia

A picture of ‘United Macedonia’ also called ‘Ethnic Macedonia’ by far-right nationalist in North Macedonia.

The creation of this new ethnic Macedonian identity served two purposes, first to differentiate the Slav population of Vardar Macedonia (now North Macedonia) from the Bulgarians and also to give Yugoslavia claims to more land but more importantly land that has access to the Aegean Sea.

These territorial claims could only be justified by also the creation of an oppressed ethnic Macedonian identity in those other territories. Today’s region of Macedonia is loosely based on a province from the Roman Empire that was created for administrative purposes. It was never in history a majority Slav region, instead it was very diverse with mostly Greeks in the Southern regions that border the Aegean Sea since before the creation of the Roman Empire.

These claims of an oppressed Macedonian identity were further boosted by a policy of ‘Macedonisation’ in the Bulgarian region of Pirin Macedonia that started in 1947 following the signing of the 1947 Bled Accord that was an agreement between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria that those two countries were the home of the South Slavs. Furthermore, it saw Yugoslavia forgive the war reparations that were pre-agreed a few years ago from Bulgaria following the end of WW2, it also Bulgaria and Yugoslavia agree that the region of Pirin Macedonia will join the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in Yugoslavia while Yugoslavia will give Bulgaria a region in Serbia known as the Western Outlands that is populated by mainly Bulgarians. (Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Dimitrov)

After this agreement was signed, this saw teachers from Yugoslavia arrive in the Bulgarian region of Pirin Macedonia to teach children the newly created Macedonian language. Furthermore, the Bulgarian authorities forcibly wrote on the passports of Bulgarians in Pirin Macedonia that their ethnicity is Macedonian. Furthermore, the Bulgarian authorities also announced after the signing of the agreement that all of the population of the province of Pirin Macedonia from now on must identify as ethnic Macedonians rather than Macedonian in the regional sense.

The USSR’s leader Stalin was not pleased with this improvement of relations between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Stalin saw the USSR as the leader of the communist world and could not allow a new bloc to form within the communist world, as Yugoslavia and Bulgaria planned to form a Balkan Union which would further strengthen Yugoslavia. So just a year later after the 1947 accord was signed in 1948, Stalin invited Georgi Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Tito of Yugoslavia to come to meet him. Tito refused and instead sent a trusted aid, the meeting didn’t go well between Yugoslavian and USSR representatives which led to what is known as the Tito-Stalin split.

The Bulgarian government finally saw an opportunity to cancel the accord that was hugely unpopular in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian province of Pirin Macedonia (now known as Blagoevgrad). In 1956, the Bulgarians denounced the 1947 Bled Accord as Yugoslavian expansionism, they kicked out all of the new teachers from Yugoslavia that taught the new Macedonian language and also stopped forcing people in the province of Pirin Macedonia to identify as ethnic Macedonians.

The province of Blagoevgrad (Pirin Macedonia) in Bulgaria.

The Ethnic Macedonia Minority in Blagoevgrad Today

In the latest census conducted in 2011 the region of Blagoevgrad has a population of 323,522 people. According to the census 1,654 of those self-identified as ethnic Macedonians. The biggest ethnic minorities in the Blagoevgrad district are the Turks with a self-identified population of 17,027 and Gypsies at a population of 9739.

However, according to some ethnic Macedonian nationalists, there are actually over 25,000 people in Blagoevgrad that self-identify as ethnic Macedonians but somehow they are not counted. There are also more extreme Macedonian nationalist views that all of the population of Blagoevgrad district is actually ethnic Macedonians that have been assimilated. A problem with this theory however is that no recorded instances of any famous figures in Blagoevgrad being killed or imprisoned for their ethnic Macedonian identity like there was in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia where an estimated 4,700 were killed or disappeared during an event called Bloody Christmas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Christmas_(1945) As well as figures such as Metodi Chento and Panko Brashnarov being imprisoned and dying from their treatment in labor camps due to their Bulgarian self-consciousness. Additionally, there was never a policy of Bulgarization in Blagoevgrad, instead, there was a period of Macedonization which obviously makes no sense, if everyone there was ethnic Macedonians why did they need to be Macedonized with the help of teachers from Yugoslavia.

Additionally there was also no mass migration from Blagoevgrad district into the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. It is estimated that after the end of WW2 that 8% of the population of Vardar Macedonia fled into Bulgaria. And in total when you consider all of the other parts of the region of Macedonia, the biggest migration of Macedonians was actually into Bulgaria. According to one researchers, 1 in 4 Bulgarians have grandparents or parents that are from the region of Macedonia.

There was and still is a Macedonian regional identity in Blagoevgrad, however, this is not the same as a national identity. Furthermore in a study by researcher Anton Kojouharov called the ‘Bulgarian “Macedonian” Nationalism: A Conceptual Overview’ published in 2004 it shows that the majority of the population in the province of Blagoevgrad believe that the Slav population of North Macedonia are Bulgarians.

Dispelling Popular Myths and Theories About the Oppressed Ethnic Macedonian Minority

Numerous myths are currently ongoing about an oppressed ethnic Macedonian in the region of Blagoevgrad. For example, there is an organization known as OMO Ilinden-Pirin that is a political party for the ethnic Macedonians mainly in Blagoevgrad province. This political party is not registered within Bulgaria and admittedly does not have a lot of support or members but despite this it is actually a major point of contention between Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Flag of OMO Ilinden-Pirin

OMO Ilinden-Pirin was first founded in 1991 as simply OMO Ilinden by extravagant Bulgarian actor Georgi Solunski who is not a native of the region of Macedonia but instead born in the region of Pernik and spent most of his life in the capital of Sofia. The other founder was Yordan Kostadinov the leader of the Committee for Human Rights of Macedonians in Pirin Macedonia. The organization OMO Ilinden was created after the independence of the then Republic of Macedonia, despite the country no longer being a part of Yugoslavia, the old Yugoslavian ideas continued to persist and they do even to this day as of writing this article in 2020. In the first constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, it said that the country’s goal was the unite all of the regions of Macedonia into a confederation as well as to serve all of the ethnic Macedonians in the region of Macedonia.

Due to this OMO Ilinden-Pirin in Bulgaria is regarded a foreign interference and a government-funded organization. The organization supports and spreads pseudo-historical theories such as that there has been an ethnic Macedonian national identity for thousands of years and that there is some kind of oppression going on in Bulgaria against ethnic Macedonians. Additionally, OMO Ilinden made absurd demands such as the withdrawal of British troops from Blagoevgrad province, the ban of all Bulgarian parties in Blagoevgrad, and also for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to hand over all church property in the Blagoevgrad district to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. OMO-Iliden is very controversial in the Blagoevgrad province and Bulgaria as a whole. The organization’s meetings have been frequently disrupted by angry locals and some of their celebrations and events shut down by the local government of Blagoevgrad in order to avoid disorder. Additionally, the OMO Ilinden group has accused the Bulgarian policy of brutality but this claim has never been proven.

In 1994, 3 years after the founding of OMO Ilinden the group split into separate factions before finally remerging into what is today known as OMO Ilinden-Pirin. In 1999 they were successfully registered as a political party and received around 3,000 votes in the region of Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria(the ethnic Macedonian population was much larger then compared to that of the census of 2011). However in 2001, OMO Ilinden-Pirin was de-registered for having separatist sentiment which is illegal under the Bulgarian constitution, the members of OMO Ilinden-Pirin however blamed repression.

Since then there have been many attempts to re-register the party but all of them have failed. There have even been legal proceedings against the group for stealing the personal information of Bulgarians in order to get enough signatures for a registration application and also paying the Roma community in return for signatures. The lack of progress in the registration of the party has however been criticized by the EU in a memorandum and also by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Bulgaria.

There is a common misconception however going on in the headquarters of the EU in Brussels and the Macedonian diaspora that do not know how to speak Macedonian but are radicalized Macedonian nationalists. First of according to the Bulgarian constitution there cannot be political parties for specific minorities. There is an estimated 500,000 ethnic Turks in Bulgaria, an estimated 302 times the number of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria however not even the Turks have their own political party. No minority in Bulgaria has their own political party, this is because Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic which means that in the eyes of the law every person with Bulgarian citizenship is a Bulgarian regardless of their ancestry or how they may identify. Therefore it is wrong and unfactual to claim that OMO Ilinden-Pirin is denied registration because there is repression against ethnic Macedonians but in an ironic way it is accurate to say that it is because they are an ethnic Macedonian organization because ethnic specific political parties are not allowed in Bulgaria in any way.

Additionally, the way OMO Ilinden-Pirin is set up makes them prime targets for deregistration, as it is also illegal for a political party in Bulgaria to be pushing for any kind of separatism including autonomy.

Another aspect worth considering is that of the past and also trauma. It is pretty telling that the Bulgarians get along better with the Turks in Bulgaria who ruled over them for over 500 years than the ethnic Macedonians that have only existed as a nationality since 1944 and have never been in a direct military conflict with Bulgaria although thousands of Bulgarians were prosecuted in the Socialist Republic of Bulgaria for simply being Bulgarian. The real issue behind this is that Bulgaria and North Macedonia have not settled their issue, communist era ideology continues to be supported by the authorities in North Macedonia, the denial of the atrocities that were committed in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia as well as the continued fabrication of Bulgarian history has not helped the two country’s mutual relationship. In North Macedonia and the Macedonian diaspora it is still seen as okay to call Bulgarians ‘Tatars’ and ‘Bulgars’ which are two slurs that are used to propagate the theory that Bulgarians are not Europeans and that they do not belong in Europe.

Moreover, there is the accusation that the Macedonian language is being suppressed in Bulgaria. This is actually not the case, in schools in Bulgaria the main language taught is Bulgarian. If a student or any person in Bulgaria wants to learn another language they are free to do so in their free time, no one will do anything to you if you learn Macedonian. Furthermore Macedonian and Bulgarian are mutually intelligible and so someone that speaks Bulgarian can very easily as well as quickly learn Macedonian and vice versa.

The Newspaper by Ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria Operated by Canadian Macedonains

Narodna Volja is the main and likely only Macedonian language newspaper for the people that see themselves as ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria. Although it is technically no longer a newspaper but more of a news website as it is no longer actively being printed and distributed but instead hosted on a website and shared on social media. Which is not surprising considering how much cheaper it is to do it that way. The newspaper is a proponent of communist-era Yugoslav theories and accuses Bulgaria of falsifying Macedonian history. The articles on the website are written in three languages; Macedonian, Bulgarian, and English.

The newspaper Narodna Volja was founded on the 1st of October 1980 in Australia by immigrants from Yugoslavian controlled Socialist Republic of Macedonia. The aim of the newspaper was for it not to be read by the Macedonian Australian diaspora but for it to be distributed inside of the Blagoevgrad district in Bulgaria.

It is a popular newspaper not in Bulgaria but in North Macedonia and also in the wider Macedonian Diaspora with hundreds of thousands of Macedonians living primarily in the European Union, the United States, Canada, and Australia. It used by proof by Macedonian nationalists that there is a big ethnic Macedonian minority in Bulgaria that is being repressed and kept hidden from the world somehow.

When we had a look at who owns the website of Narodna Volja (http://www.narodnavolja.com/), we found that it is registered by an individual in Canada called Aco Lukaroski.

The contact details of the individual that registered the website of Narodna Volja

When we had a look at the address given for the registrant contact we found out that it is likely the home address of Aco Lukaroski in Canada.

The base of operations of Narodna Volja that is based in the city of Mississauga, Canada.

Based on the contact details left we also managed to find the address of the base of operations of the newspaper of Narodna Volja that claims to be based in the district of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria when in reality it is being run over 8,000 kilometers away in Canada.

Based on his name we were also able to identify him on social media as he was the only individual called ‘Aco Lukaroski’ that lived in the whole of Canada. And as a coincidence, he also happens to be a resident of the exact same town of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

The owner of the Narodna Volja that claims to be run by Macedonians in Bulgaria. Aco Lukaroski is a resident of Canada.

Additionally, on his Facebook page, he has listed that he is a Web Developer at TJ-Hosting. This is big evidence as according to the contact details of the owner of the website in the public register it says that the contact email is ‘marketing@tj-hosting.com’.

Apart from that from the images that Aco Lukaroski has on social media, it is pretty obvious that he is a high-ranking member if not the leader of an ethnic Macedonian organization.

Furthermore, the email ‘marketing@tj-hosting.com’ that is the contact email for the Narodna Volja website is also used for a variety of other Macedonia related websites such as:

  • stclementofohrid.com
  • macedonianewspaper.com
  • macedoniancities.com
  • macedonianfilmfestival.com

And also it has been used to register the website lukaroski.com which is a joke website that used the exact same surname of Aco Lukaroski who we believe is the owner of the Narodna Volja newspaper.

Conclusion

In this article we are in no way denying the right to people to identify as they like or that there are around 1,654 people in Blagoevgrad district that identify as ethnic Macedonians.

What we wanted to point out and highlight is the strange world of Macedonian nationalists in the diaspora that will go as far as faking newspapers that are apparently run by ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria and read in the part of Bulgaria that is within the region of Macedonia. In truth, the main consumers of this newspapers are people outside of Bulgaria who want to believe that there is a considerable population of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria that are oppressed and use this newspaper as evidence to prove it. After all if there was such as large population of ethnic Macedonians in the Blagoevgrad district why would they need people all the way in Canada to run their newspaper?

As you can see from the images of the meetings of such organizations they are simply clinging on to communist propaganda in Yugoslavia that was created in order to justify Yugoslavia’s territorial claims on its neighbours Greece and Bulgaria.

Sources & Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Republic_of_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Milo%C5%A1evi%C4%87

https://jamestown.org/program/ukraine-forges-military-alliance-with-macedonia/#.VUfxKvmqqko

https://www.upi.com/Defense-News/2002/01/29/Bulgaria-grants-military-aid-to-Macedonia/69581012337238/?ur3=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_insurgency_in_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubrat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Bulgarian_Empire

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_man_of_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Bulgaria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Macedonia#Ottoman_rule

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbs_in_North_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlado_Chernozemski

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Macedonian_Revolutionary_Organization

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Yugoslavia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josip_Broz_Tito

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_nationalism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-fascist_Assembly_for_the_National_Liberation_of_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metodija_Andonov-%C4%8Cento

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Republic_of_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panko_Brashnarov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krste_Misirkov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yane_Sandanski

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotse_Delchev

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bla%C5%BEe_Koneski

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historiography_in_North_Macedonia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiquization

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_of_Bulgaria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Bulgarian_Empire

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_Blood_Wedding

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voydan_Popgeorgiev_%E2%80%93_Chernodrinski

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Dimitrov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tito%E2%80%93Stalin_split

https://www.worldcat.org/search?fq=x0:jrnl&q=n2:1522-211X

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgaria

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/OMO_Ilinden-Pirin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergina_Sun

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonia_naming_dispute

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prespa_agreement